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SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

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Mar

16

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Saturday 16 March 2013
Position: 19° 10’ 09.60” N x 156° 00’ 07.20” W
Location: Kailua Kona Bay, Big Island Hawaii

Image Caption: Last Sunset Underway

Around 0830 this morning we lowered anchor in Kailua Kona bay. Today marks one of bittersweet excitement as we prepare our belongings and our hearts to disembark. It has been a long day of deep-cleaning the Robert C. Seamans, or better known to us after two months, our home. We started by “de-funking our bunks,” as the mates call it. At the beginning the bunks we were assigned to keep our belongings and sleep in seemed like an impossibly tiny space that I would never get used to. Today as I bleached the walls and emptied the shelf of my books, sea shells, souvenirs etc., I realized that about 7x3 feet is more than enough for the way of life on a tall ship. I’ve grown to love that small plot of the ship I could call mine. Our bunks became a beloved space for necessary sleep breaks and our home base to be woken up for our next watch. 

After our bunks were clean we made boat runs to shore to clear into customs. Preceding our official entrance to the US we came back to Bobby C to spend the day showing her some love and cleaning all the bits of mung (aka. yuck) that has built up in the nooks and crannies. We literally scrubbed nearly every inch of the ship. It was great!

2000 marked the beginning of our final “Swizzle.” The night started with an eruption of cheering from the crowd while our MCs for the night, Ericson Smith, Jon Butler, and Leo Liu came out in full costume to announce acts for the open mic/ skit night. Marissa Shaw and Hannah Anchleman, A watch, Colleen and Chrissy, Teiva, Daphne Gill and Devin Burri were our musical entertainment for the night. Many of the songs were themed on around our community jokes and having to leave the boat. Captain Jen gave us a tear jerking speech toast as a great way to end the trip and the last night on the boat. For our last act we got to enjoy “the Haka”, a Polynesian war dance, from “Mohono and the Boys” fallowed by a 39 person group hug as we sung what seemed to be our theme song of the trip: “Wagon Wheel.”

As some of you may know, we are officially in range of cell phone reception-don’t be alarmed if you haven’t heard from some of us, we are having a hard time giving in to technology after such a nice break! I never thought my cell phone would feel so strange in my hand, or the idea of texting so foreign. Admittedly, it’s difficult to explain what a different world we have adapted to, but it’s hard to let go of. To give you some of an idea:

Imagine being on a vessel of 135 feet for 10-11 days straight with 40 other people. now imagine that those people are the only people you see or talk to. Even more no one has a connection to the outside world to take them away from the moment of being with the people that are right in front of them. We’ve learned to flow with each other; we know how each other sleep, how we like to wake up, what drinks and foods people like and what to do to make each other laugh. It has been an incredible journey getting to know a group of so many different types of people all living and working together. I feel like I’ve had a rare opportunity to witness and experience personal growth on such a level that could only be achieved in these circumstances.

Bouts of homesickness, cabin fever, exhaustion, and feelings of being pushed to our edges are undeniably worth mentioning. Some of the most important messages I will take from this trip are that the times that are uncomfortable, there is a problem to work through, or you find that you are wrong or have made a mistake are the most opportune to learn from. I’m positive that all of us resonate with this in some way or another. With the good there is the bad, with the high the lows. Every bit of all of it has produced unique opportunities to learn things about the ship, our shipmates, and ourselves.

Bittersweet excitement fills the air as we prepare for land but have apprehensions about leaving the boat and each other. The constant cycle of watch and class has kept our lives bustling with excitement across the South Pacific. A new perspective of life on a tall ship in the sea will be something many of us think about for the rest of our lives. I for one feel like this trip has made me realize the limitless possibilities in life to explore and try new things.

Brie Bernstein
Shipmate of the Robert C Seamans
UC Stanta Cruz

Mar

15

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 15 March 2013
Position: 19° 12.5’N x 156° 00.8’W
Location: Land ho!

Image caption: Sitting on the bowsprit and being rocked by the waves.

When I woke up from the sleep of kings this morning and walked up on the deck one could see a little strip of land peeking at us from underneath its blanket of clouds. As we approached closer and closer, the strip grew bigger and by mid-afternoon we could see Mauna Loa with its peak hidden in clouds. With a tone of a gravedigger, the radio was continuously announcing weather forecast: snow, sleet, and temperatures of 30-20˚F (only in higher altitudes…hopefully). Weather warning for the islands of Hawai’i, Molokai, and Maui. I suppose it is time for a transition back to the Northern hemisphere and mud season back in New England.

My heart is filled with so many emotions – happiness of seeing the land and making a successful voyage across the oceans, sadness of something beautiful coming to an end, curiosity of what is waiting for us to discover on the fifth island, peculiarity of having to transform back into a land creature. How strange it will be to leave the ship that has become our home and safety in the ocean wilderness for so many days!

In the afternoon, many of us were practicing for tomorrow’s evening swizzle. The rehearsal then slowly turned into a music jam on starboard side with people playing guitar, ukulele, others singing and sewing sail cloth bags. What a fun community we have become since the first day we met in Woods Hole. I am again amazed at how bonding an experience can be for a group of people who have to maybe put away some personal matters and work together as a team.

Tomorrow will be a long day of ship cleaning, packing and final swizzle! Thank you to everyone who worked together to make this adventure happen. I am grateful to have met and spend this time with all of you.  I am going to let the waves rock me to sleep in my bunk. Good night.

Marketa Doubnerova
College of the Atlantic/A watch

PS. Distinguished blog readers will surely forgive me the momentary use of Czech language. Here is a message to my family: Mila maminko a Madleno, chtela bych Vam obema opozdene poprat hodne stesti a zdravi ke kulatym narozeninam! Posilam velikanskou pusu (i vsem ostatnim doma) a zavolam jen co budu moct.

Mar

14

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 14 March 2013
Position: 18° N 156° W
Location: Sailing to Hawai’i

Image Caption: C Watch on the headrig

Well, we are that point.The last few days here on Bobby C. We did our last science deployment last night, so all the data for projects is in, and we are all working frenetically on various papers and reports. I just finished my Maritime Studies paper, in which I was focusing on the Tahitian/Marquesan language and how this traditional language is a fundamental part of Polynesian cultural identity. Language is more crucial than many people realize;  it determines how you think and express views of the world. That is why untranslatable words are so fascinating. We were trying to define marae the other day in class, and had a very hard time coming up with a way to accurately describe the whole thing is English; and this is simply because we do not have the linguistic-cultural context for the word.

In other news, we did one deployment today - the Styrocast. We all drew on Styrofoam cups, then sank them to 2000 meters, which shrinks them down to about a third of the original size! So now we all have some cool souvenirs. C Watch had our last dawn watch today, which concluded with a beautiful sunrise - one where the clouds look like they’re smoldering on the horizon until the sun rises just high enough for the light rays to all burst through the clouds, lighting up the water and the sky in splashes of color. Being at sea gives you a new perspective on the state of the sky; when there is a sunrise or sunset you are completely surrounded in changing colors and light. It’s like being in the middle of a live painting.

This is my last blog entry, so I have some last thoughts to share.  This has truly been a great adventure. I have learned so much about myself, and about other people, and about how amazing the community aboard a ship can become as everyone comes together as a unit. The boat and my shipmates have become a home and a family. There’s nothing else quite like it. And I’ve learned so much about another culture, and about all kinds of oceanography related topics. (On that note - Chrissy gave a great talk about plastics in the ocean tonight.) And it has been so inspiring - the ocean is so vast, and once you are on a ship you have the whole world (the oceans are all connected after all) at the horizon.

And so I leave you with my sentiments, the first lines of one of my favorite poems, by John Masefield:
I must go down to the seas again,
To the seas and lonely sky,
And all I ask is a tallship,
And a star to steer her by.

Tasha Greenwood
Northeastern University/ C Watch

Mar

13

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Star Date: Wednesday 13 March 2013
Position: 15° 09’ 24.00” N x 156° 18’ 19.20” W
Location: Upright and cross-legged
Heading: Aft and slightly outboard
Speed: 7 cups of coffee
Weather: Comfortable temps in the galley, goosebumps on deck

Image Caption: A fraction of the community (me and Chrissy) on the north coast of Nuku Hiva.

“Never doubt that a small handful of people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

In 2009, I had a shiny new graduate degree, a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the heart of San Francisco, five rooms of furniture, two cats, a great job as a science editor, and a solid group of friends. By 2010, I was spending nine months a year in a three-by-six bunk, working 16-hour days in a 100-degree galley for a fraction of the pay. “It seems,” Devin said the other day, “like you get up at four in the morning and work all day until after dinner and then it’s time to go to bed.” (Although this is mostly true, now that students have taken on more responsibility in the galley, I do get to steal a few personal moments here and there—for example, I’m writing this blog.) “Why do you do it?” she asked. There are many answers to Devin’s question, (a love of sailing, the opportunity for personal growth, a desire to give back as an alumna, the contagious enthusiasm of college students) but perhaps the most important has already been reflected in the growing community of S245.

I have an admittedly romantic notion of “the way life used to be” when the majority of the global population lived in small rural communities or fledgling suburban neighborhoods. When people knew the names and faces of everyone within those borders and, I imagine, there was greater personal accountability for the actions of individuals within the community. Sure, there were some drawbacks—people died of strep throat prior to the development of antibiotics—but the benefits of seeing the immediate reverberations of your actions within a group can make the difference between survival and oblivion.

Here on the Bobby C, we see the reverberations of our actions. If we spill coffee and step over it as if nothing happened, we watch our shipmate bend down to wipe it up (or, conversely, a shipmate potentially slip and fall). When we “take out the garbage,” we move it on deck to a storage box that fills more quickly than we might at first imagine. And then we fill the forepeak. And after six weeks, those black bags peek out of our small dory, reminding us of the consequences of our own necessary consumption. When we haul on lines to set sails, we witness the immediate effects of wind harnessed to our advantage as we make miles to our destination. When we work hard and efficiently as a team to sample water and collect data over thousands of those miles, we gain a unique picture of this stretch of ocean—a colorful map from which, thanks to the legwork of the scientists who came before us, we can extrapolate much about the Pacific, about our climate, and about the changes being experienced by all living things on our planet.

In science, through looking at something small, we get a rather reliable sense of the bigger picture. In coming together as a ship’s community and observing the implications of our choices, in visiting and observing other small communities (terrestrial, avian, and aquatic) on our port stops, in seeing plastic from Japan washing up on the shores of a tiny atoll so many thousands of tacks and gybes away, we come to understand just how connected we all are. LIfe on a boat is a constant reminder that what we do matters. That although out in the great wide world the reverberations of our actions may ripple out of sight, they’re still rippling somewhere. Just as each of us affects our little floating world each moment of each day, so too do we affect our communities back home. What we do with those effects is up to us.


Margaret Mead believed well into the 20th century that a handful of people could and have changed the world. Although we will never again be in exactly this community of people, it’s my hope that each participant will take what they’ve learned from being such an influential part of it back to their towns, their families, their friends, their sororities, their relationships, and that they will continue to lead by example.

Thanks to each and every one of you on S245 for what you brought to this brief community, and I look forward to meeting up with you again somewhere out in the world!

Sayzie Koldys, Ship’s Steward

p.s. As always, much love to my family! See you in a couple of weeks! Twich and Abby, looking forward to a few rainbows over Sand Island with y’all!

Mar

12

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Tuesday 12 March 2013, 2300
Position: 13° 34.2’N x 156° 38.9’W

Image caption: Newlywed couples (starting third in from the left) Marissa Shaw and Leonid Liu, Rachel Levinson and Tasha Carter-Gordon, Sam Koss and Jayme Smith pose with previously wed couple Erickson Smith and Mia Pinheiro following a triple wedding ceremony today

Wedding bells were ringing onboard the RCS today as three couples tied the knot.  Officiate/Capitan Jen Haddock bound the couples together through the power vested in her by Neptune in unions “that would only last as long as the ceremony itself.”  In her opening remarks, Capitan Jen was able to summarize each couple in a few words, “the Copra Couple,” “the I’ve Known You Since High School Couple,” and “the Why Not? Couple.”  The vows of each were said to gentle background sounds of Moohono Niva’s ukulele and highlights include “Our love is like a germinated coconut, hard on the outside and squishy on the inside,” ” I knew we were meant to be from the time you baffled my family by walking around my house without pants,” and “You are my dolphin and I am your copepod.”  Dress for the occasion was “Beach Casual,” which in this environment means anything goes (note the outfits featured in the picture); bouquets included a bushel of tootsie pops as well as a bunch of palm leaves, and rings were child sized Mickey and Minnie Mouse lip-gloss rings.  I can speak for all of the couples that our 15-minutes of marriage was full of wedded bliss, but now that that’s done we are single and ready to mingle!

In other happenings on the Bobby C. today, the SPICErs observed “Pigtail Day” and numerous members of the ship’s company celebrated the day with wearing their hair in-you guessed it-pigtails!  Princess Laya buns, braided, straight, little spouts on the top of the head were all sported in honor of the pseudo holiday. 

Finally, the students were treated to a hands-on class instructed by the mates Colleen Allard, Rocky Hadler, and Mackenzie Haberman.  The students went to each stations based on their watch groups and received expert training on splicing lines, whipping line ends (fancy way of saying tying-off the end of a rope), and crafting Turk’s head coasters.  These newfound skill sets will further enhance the training of all of us J-WOs (Junior Watch Officers).

ONWARD TO THE BIG ISLAND!
Jayme Smith
The George Washington University/ B Watch/Newlywed and Newly single

P.S. Family (biological and sorority)-I miss you all, expect to have plenty of Skype sessions once I get to Hawaii!!

AND P.P.S. Hannah requested a shout-out to her brother Jay for his 19th
birthday! Happy birthday!!

Mar

11

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Monday 11 March 2013, 20:17
Position: 11° 09.9’ N, 157° 13.3’ W
Description of Location: Just about halfway between Kiritimati and Hawai’i!
Weather and Wind: Clear skies as the wind blows around 12 knots, and the seas rock us with 6 ft. swells.  The ship is heeling quite a bit to port (left).

IMAGE CAPTION: Erickson stands watch at the bow during this evening’s sunset.  Photo Credit: Justin Falcone

Today began yesterday at 2300 with standing mid-watch.  The science crew found some awesome organisms in their Neuston net tow!  They caught a live heteropod, which is a relative of snails, but with a hardly recognizable shell and a foot that has been adapted to swimming by becoming wider and flatter.  It was completely transparent, and its organs were completely visible.  The creature swam circles in the pint jar we kept it in, antennae wiggling and foot paddling.  Under the dissecting scope, we came across a chaetognath (translates to “comb-mandible”), a transparent worm with two branching structures set on either side of its head that it uses for snagging unlucky plankton out of the water.  We’ve seen plently of chaetognaths on the voyage up until this point, but never one with an intact shrimp within its stomach! Through the scope, we were able to make out the contour of the worm and its black, beady eyes within the stomach cavity of the worm.  It was an amazing insight into the microscopic world.

When not on watch today, I spent much of my time working on the various projects I have been working on throughout the trip.  I have been researching the state of the fisheries in each of the places we’ve gone, and how the lifestyles and methods of fishing have changed in the past century. Along with writing a paper about it, I have been trying to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to illustrate Polynesia’s fisheries.  Today I worked with Jeff, a faculty member from Middlebury College and master of all things GIS, to construct a map that juxtaposes the current management system of Fakarava atoll with the traditional Rahui system once used there. 

The current management plan divides the atoll and the area around it into a series of zones with various functions: there’s a zone set aside for scientific research, one for tourism, another that is open for any sort of activity, and two zones that alternate between being open for fishing and closed for restoration.  It is a very static system: the boundaries of the zones are rigid, and cut straight across miles of the lagoon.  I would think it would be very hard for anyone out in the lagoon with a boat to know whether they had crossed the line or not.  However, this management plan was created to try to better regulate usage of the lagoon after a big influx of people to the atoll in the early 2000s.  Once the population surpassed the once constant 200 or so inhabitants, the traditional Rahui system no longer worked.  The Rahui system is ancient, and is thought to have been used since people lived on Fakarava.  Every three months, the residents of Fakarava would migrate to the opposite side of the lagoon to make camp and fish the waters in that quarter of the lagoon. They would rotate through four non-delineated zones to keep the lagoon healthy, so that no area of the lagoon felt more fishing pressure than the next.  This style of management is far more fluid, and allows for more flexibility when considering where, when, and what one is going to fish.  However, the council of Fakarava decided at the turn of the century that this system would not function with the increased number of fishermen and relatively grounded communities.

Whether or not the Rahui system can be reinstated is up for debate. However, I hope the maps I create will show the stark contrast between the rigidity of the current management plan and the adaptability of the Rahui system.  Perhaps in the future the two can be integrated, to better protect the lagoon and the atoll’s inhabitants, whose main fishing zone happens to be the zone with the highest concentration of Ciguaterra, a neurological disease contracted from reef fish consumption. 

With all of the projects I’m currently working on, it is very clear to me that I am only scratching the surface of a biologically, geologically, socio-politically, economically complex system that is French Polynesia.  I feel that with every answer I received in an interview, I had three more questions.  Fisheries, especially, has been a difficult field to study, as most of the fishing done in the places we’ve visited has been informal, for pleasure or subsistence.  I am excited though, by the paper I am producing, and hope it’ll shed a little light on the current state of fisheries in Tahiti, Fakarava, and Nuku Hiva for the rest of the world.

The further north we travel, the more often I think of snow in New England. I hope a bit is being saved for those of us returning to the East Coast at the end of the month!

Erickson Smith
College of the Atlantic/B Watch

Mar

10

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 10 March 2013
Position: 8° N x 157° W

Image caption: Caroline Yeager aloft, saluting our JWOs towards success!

Good morning and welcome aboard the Bobby Seamans on this fine day. Today’s blog broadcast is brought to you over the SSV radio waves by co-hosts Mackenzie Haberman, 3rd Mate, and Chrissy Dykeman, 2nd Scientist.

Chrissy: The breaking stories of the day include attempting to dodge squalls in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, celebrating 21st birthdays at sea, trying to land a big catch on our fishing line, and getting full-swing into the JWO phase. Let’s first hear from our weather desk about that ITCZ. Mackenzie?

Mackenzie: Scientifically speaking, the past few days’ weather has been a bit “schmooey,” as we say on the quarterdeck. In the past 24 hours we have seen steady rains and easterly winds as we motor sail our way towards the Big Island. We’ve had some good rollers too, with many waves giving the labhouse a good slap and dousing unsuspecting passersby.  Water keeps tryingto sneak below decks, either via our dripping foulies or salt spray, however the skies have finally parted and we are enjoying the sunshine today! I’ve heard some rumors about birthdays, Chrissy, any truth to those?

Chrissy: Why yes, in fact! Yesterday the ship celebrated C watcher Jon Butler’s 21st birthday. Steward Jayme Smith whipped up a batch of delicious chocolate cupcakes, complete with sea creature toppers and rainbow sprinkles. There was a mad rush on seconds, but fortunately, no one got hurt in the stampede. Unlike most, it was a 21st birthday celebration to remember, as we might have been sober but we certainly weren’t dry! Speaking of those sea creatures, Mackenzie, I’ve heard reports from the starboard quarter of a battle we’ve been waging with a mahi-mahi and our fishing line. Any report on a cease-fire anytime soon?

Mackenzie: Well sad news is, Chrissy, our fishing line did not come out victorious in that game of cat-and-mouse. It seemed promising when the line came under strain, and our offensive players on the front line reported seeing the fish on the line putting up a good fight. The Seamans Fishing Team (SFT) employed the trusty hauling technique of hand-over-hand, but in the end our zone defense failed against this aqueous titan. With much spray and fanfare, the mahi-mahi managed to part our line and escape, along with our hopes for a title and a fresh fish dinner. During science station this morning our worthy opponent made another appearance off the stern, challenging the SFT to a future playoff. It could be a real game-changer once they try a new lure, and we’ll have to see what happens next. Perhaps our next JWO- Junior Watch Officer- will have better luck landing the catch.

Chrissy: You mention JWO, Mackenzie, let’s explore that further as it’s our leading story of the day. The students have really upped the ante this last leg of the trip as they assume control of the deck, and it’s been watch after watch of excellent leadership. Each JWO has the responsibility of making sure all the tasks of the watch get completed, from boat checks to hourlies to getting on station for science. Their voices have lead all sail evolutions and maneuvering, and on the science deck we’ve seen them take charge in leading deployments as well. Speaking as their teachers, it has been rewarding to see their knowledge manifest in gybes led, sails set, and prompt wakeups. Anything else to add, Mack?

Mackenzie: It really has been another illuminating day at sea! There is plenty to be done in these last few days aboard, and we know the ship’s company has been compiling a list of fun tasks to do before we reach Hawaii so no one misses these last opportunities. From the news desk here in the doghouse of the SSV Robert C. Seamans, we bid you good night and tune in tomorrow for more updates from the Pacific!

Signing off,
Mackenzie Haberman & Chrissy Dykeman

PS. (From Chrissy) To friends and family back home, I’ll see you soon! Love you!
PPS. (From Mack) I MISS YOU MOM! Give the Russian and the furball some love from me.

Mar

10

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Written on:
Friday 08 March 2013
Position: 4° 01.9’N x 157° 44.7’W

Image Caption: Believe it or not this is the before shot of our soaking wet Christmas Island truck tour - bunch of happy campers!

HAPPY PIZZA FRIDAY EVERYONE!!!

As usual, exciting day over here on the Bobby C. B watch (my watch) had the “sleep of kings” as we like to call it, meaning we went to bed after mid-watch at 3am and didn’t have to wake up for breakfast. It was a short but wonderful 8 hours rest and at 11:45 we headed up to the lab top for our pre watch meeting. I am not sure how up to speed you guys are on our academic schedule but today (for those who don’t know) was LAB PRACTICAL DAY!!!! We have all been studying feverishly for the past few days holding review sessions with scientists and making study guides. B watch got a little extra studying in during our meeting and then played an exciting game of fax machine which is similar to telephone but involves drawing pictures and making up sentences. We had an exciting turnover when we relieved A watch and for the first time since our trip to Fakarava we SET THE MAINS’L!!! We have been sailing under the storm trys’l for the past few weeks and captain Jen decided that “stormy” was getting a little tired so together A watch and B watch hauled away and with the help of Mackenzie’s call and response tactic of “when I say animal you say house” the main is now up!

But like all good things, the fun had to come to an end when class time hit and the dreaded lab practical was finally upon us. The format of the test was similar to any lab practical that I have ever taken, except that of course it was on a boat in the middle of the ocean. There were 25 different stations with questions that we each had to answer about various things that we do in the lab. Some examples for those curious: asking about the set-up of the neuston net, identifying 3 different zooplankton under a microscope and my personal favorite station was number 6 where we had to take one representative sample from a bowl of candy and process appropriately. I actually had to come back to that one in our 20 minutes of extra time just to “review”. Candy is a HUGE treat on the Bobby C and will only make appearances during super special occasions such as field day, so we kind of turn into wild animals when the big silver bowl come out. Anyway the tests were collected and all order was restored back into our lives when “study for lab practical” was erased from the to-do list in the lab!

As we inch closer and closer to Hawaii our responsibilities grow. We been having junior watch officers on deck every watch who basically work as watch have officers with some gentle (or not so gentle depending on the situation) guidance from the mates. Our times as “J-WO” have been stressful but having the responsibility and support from both our watches and crew has been a really great learning experience for all!!!

That’s all I really have for you tonight folks, we were told that we should limit the amount we talk about food on the blog because it has started to get old, so I will save you all from the horribly boring detailed descriptions of the 6 different types of Pizza that we had tonight. Even though I could go on for a while about the feta, spinach, broccoli and onion pizza and the magical explosion of flavor that it left in our mouths. (SORRY! couldn’t resist!) Since our time on the Seamans is unfortunately coming to a painful close this will be my last time blogging. I just wanted to say that this trip has been such an incredible adventure full of unforgettable memories and I am so thankful every day for the opportunity to be a part of such a special experience. I could not have asked for a more amazing group of kids to spend 2 months out on the Pacific with!!!

THIS JUST IN: We were informed by Mary that LAUNDRY SERVICE is available at Kalani (the retreat on the big island where we are staying) for $10, wash dry and fold. Aaaaaand that’s all I have to say about that,  for once my excitement has rendered me completely speechless.

Huge aloha and big hugs to everyone at home reading this. Mom, Daddy, Lige and Shaka. Miss and love you guys, can’t wait to see you in 3 weeks and you better believe I will be bringing back some Poke from safeway.

XOX

Carson Mehl
Union College / B Watch

Mar

08

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 08 March 2013, 20:00
Position: 4° 01.9’N x 157° 44.7’W
Wind NE’ly Force 4, mostly cloudy with some squalls

Image Caption: It’s a Great Day for SCIENCE!  Starring: Meghan as “The Mysterious Moose,” Tasha as “The Sassy Crab,” Jon as “Darth Vader,” and myself as “The Jelly”.

Hi All!
As the photo accompanying today’s blog shows, today was an epic day filled of SCIENCE! The C-watch labbies learned how to do an oxygen titration, more fondly known as “Winkling.” Since I am a science nerd and I love this stuff, you will all be treated to a play by play of how to Winkle.

First, we take the water samples out of the carousel. Some chemicals are added (I won’t bore you with all of the details) that fix the oxygen to form a precipitate. Now, it gets exciting. The precipitate is dissolved by adding some sulfuric acid, followed by the addition of some sodium thiosulfate which turns the water sample a beautiful pee color. Next, some starch is added which creates a lovely black and blue color. More sodium thiosulfate is added to the bruise-colored mixture until the sample is clear once again.

The big picture is that the amount of sodium thiosulfate added to turn the sample clear is a proxy for the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. The lovely hats featured in the photo are a necessity for anyone involved in the Winkling process. All in a day’s work here in the RCS lab! As the reality of arriving in Hawaii slowly sinks in, project work is starting to pick up, and oceanography projects in particular are becoming a main focus. I am a member of the secondary production group, meaning that I get to nerd out even more with some zooplankton! There is something so unique and amazing about being surrounded by the environment you are studying. As an aspiring marine scientist, the time I spend in lab and studying oceanography are some of my favorite parts of the trip. I am getting first-hand experience of the nitty gritty of fieldwork, and I love it!
 
The last few days have been additionally exciting for me as extra responsibilities have been given to the students in all aspects of life aboard the RCS. Everyone on board has so much to be proud of, considering that a few short weeks ago we had no clue what we were doing. The independence that comes with extra responsibility has created a great dynamic of team work and friendship in C-watch. After leaving Christmas Island, we made a pact to make this last leg of the trip as amazing as we possibly can, and we are off to a great start. I know that we will leave the Seamans in Hawaii as great friends and with a sense of pride for what we have accomplished!   

As a side note to anyone interested, Erickson has successfully procured enough clothes to last him the rest of the trip after losing his entire wardrobe to Neptune!

Since this is my last blog post, this is goodbye for me. It seems strange that as soon as life on the ship really becomes routine, I have to think about leaving. If there is one thing that I have learned about myself on this trip, it is that I want to come back as soon as I can!

Dad, Julie and Jay-I love you guys bunches and miss you like crazy. The best part of having this excellent adventure come to an end will be telling you all about it!

Hannah Aichelman
UNC Chapel Hill
C Watch

Mar

07

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 07 March 2013
Position: 2° 40.8’ N 157° 06.8’ W
Location: North of Kiritimati Island

Image Caption: Squigee POWER! Armed with our squigees and dust pans the crew of Seamans cleans out those tiny grimy stowaways. Left to right: Daphne, Devin, Brie, Mia

We’re a full day away from Kiritimati Island now and the ship is starting to rock to its own roll again. After the initial repercussion of sea sickness and the general tiredness accompanying getting under way the crew are recalibrating their routines to get back into the groove of things. To start off our last leg of the journey we began the cleansing of the Bobby C. (see image) of all the little pieces of land that tried to stowaway with a thorough, level four, Field day. As we skirted the ITCZ, the ship was scoured from soul to bulkhead; the clouds hovered and threatened rain but never delivered. With a shimmering ship, we continued on our way leaving behind the dust of Kiritimati Island.

A part of our watch rotation is to be the Assistant steward for one or two days throughout the trek. It was my honor to plan, make and serve meals and snacks all day for our motley crew. Waking in the wee morning I started about a hearty breakfast and worked throughout the day to squeak out the plates just before the triangle dinged. While slicing and dicing you come to really appreciate all that happens behind the scenes when you’re living in a community such as this. People like Sayzie, our steward, wake up at an astonishing hour, slave away in a hot and uncomfortable environment, constantly need to be thinking of new ways to fuel the watches and Others and then need to be able to get up at the same time the next day and do it all over again. Just being in the galley for one day gives you a realistic impression of what living on a ship is actually like.

As we begin our last leg of sailing (and unfortunately motoring) I find myself just now becoming aware and valuing all the little things that people do that you can only begin to notice after living with the ship and crew. Everything is run so smoothly at the beginning but as we begin to take on more and more responsibility you discover all the questions that need to be asked and how much we have learned over the past several weeks. While it may seem to those back home that two months is a long time to be out of contact and living on a ship, time just flies when all you can see are waves and sky. I am looking forward to see friends and family oh so soon but there just isn’t enough time with Bobby C. and the crew to even start doing and exploring all the amazing things this program has to offer. With personal growth abounding along with a new wealth of knowledge, this experience will mark us so that even though it was a short two months the rest of our lives will be crafted by it.

So to all those back home, know that I/we miss you and hope everything is smooth sailing (relative to our ten foot swells). Keep on keepin’ on (AKA Zacheus turn in your college applications!) and we’ll see ya’ll soon!

Daphne Gill
Oregon State University/ B Watch

Mar

06

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday 06 March 2013
Position: Position: 2° 33’N by 157° 02’W

Photo caption: waiting for the early boat-run to go back to Mama Seamans on Christmas Island

The first day we arrived at Christmas Island, we were thirsty for going ashore after ten days without seeing any land. When it was announced that we could not leave the boat until the next day, some friends started to joke about jumping off the boat and swimming to the island by ourselves. On the second day, we could finally made it to the island. However, by the time I was walking around the beach, I was astonished to see numerous bugs circling around my knee. Trash had stunk the place. Those plastic bags, cans, rusted metals, and dead animals really made the beach smell. The muddy waters kept our bathing suits dry in our backpacks for the entire day.

Our first impressions of the island overwhelmed some of us, or at least bored us to a great extent. There were only three stores on the island, and all goods were for daily necessities. Hence, even though some of us would like to stimulate the local economy, there were no souvenirs that can be found. Since there were not so much things to do on the island, most students chose to take the early boat run to come back to Seamans. It seemed like we prefer to spend a lazy, unproductive afternoon on the boat rather than exploring the island.

We had a discussion on our experience and thoughts on Christmas Island yesterday. Most students agreed with the point that Kiribati could not sustain itself without foreign supports. We have expanded our topic to include the possible solutions to help them deal with their problems. One thing worth noticing from this trip was that wherever we go, we tend to think that we are assisting the people to revive their culture and helping them to find a way to earn a better life. Our perspectives as benefactors might limit our horizons. Actually, each one has something in which he or she excels. There are a lot of things we could learn from this place.

If you asked me what I liked the most about Christmas Island, I would say “the people here” without any hesitancy. People from this island were extremely friendly and generous. Yes indeed, they had not much to offer. They had no abundant fresh fruits, air conditioning, or even usable bathrooms. Nevertheless, people here were trying their best to provide what they can, and even went over their capacity. They smiled warmly and waved to every stranger walking on the road. Cars always stopped for us and were willing to give us a ride, even though the driver intended to go the opposite direction. People spoke as much English as they could to us. We went to a Protestant church on Sunday morning. At the church, the priest switched around Kiribati and English because of our presence.

You can see the traditional Polynesian grass house that no longer exist in Polynesia but can be found on Christmas. There were no fences around the house; neither do they have walls to protect their privacy. Everything inside the house was exposed to the public and everyone can just walk in. The house owners are not worrying about problems such as stealing. Christmas Islanders have very strong family ties, and they frequently interact with friends and neighbors. Compared to them, we are way too busy. We study hard in order to get a good job, because we believe that a good job can guarantee us decent payment. High income would make our life better and more satisfying. However, when we are trying so hard to pursue happiness, have we ignored our families’ and friends’ feelings? How much time are we able to spend with our parents, siblings, and old friends after we grow up?

At a reception given by the local ministry, we asked a question regarding the unemployment rate on the island. Surprisingly, the lady confidently told us that their unemployment rate was 90 percent on the Christmas Island, but it was not a problem at all. They do not need to be hired in order to have a life. According to her, money is not that significant in their economy. People here fish for themselves, planting coconut, and building their own shelters. They do not seem to need a federal bank to operate their financial system. Exchanging goods among neighbors and family members makes their life sufficient. Without the protections from the government, what makes this happen? Perhaps, trust.

We are all curious and kindhearted college students. When we are trying to figure out what we can do for the people there to improve their life, why not learn something from them first?

Yixin Liu
C Watch

Mar

06

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 20:05
Position: 2° 33’N by 157° 02’W
Heading: 0 degrees
Speed: 6kn
Weather / Wind: Winds ENE, Force 4, seas 9 ft
Description of location: The day after Christmas Island.

Image Caption: Center of Administration on Kiritimati

Thoughts on our Boxing Day
We left Kiritimati Atoll yesterday morning after a rewarding and challenging four-day visit.  The rewards were the more immediate as we immersed ourselves in the landscape of coconuts and vivid green palm trees, of thatched huts and backyard grunting pigs, of colorful small hand-built fishing canoes dotting the shore.  Walking through all this, we were accompanied by curious and grinning kids and calls of “Mauri”, hello in the I-Kiribati language.

These scenes challenge the visitor in many ways, though; this isn’t the easiest of landscapes to understand, for reasons that span history and culture.  Underneath the color of the landscape, the island is a dry atoll with poor soils and few natural resources to support the fast growing population. For western sensibilities, the juxtaposition of the apparent poverty can clash with the amazing generosity and friendliness of the people amongst who we walked.

The presence of the 6000-8000 people (best estimate by the local government today) on the island is currently only made possible by direct development aid by a number of donor nations in the Pacific Rim.  Signs advertising the aid efforts of New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, USA and EU decorate the fronts of most public buildings, and while fish from the lagoon and the seaward coral reefs is a very important food source, the staples of rice and flour come from elsewhere in large disproportion to the exports of copra. The bigger export is the sale of fishing rights to the adjacent waters within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Kiribati to the deep-sea long liners and purse-seiners from Spain, Taiwan and Korea.  The proceeds of these sales, however, are directed to the capital island of Tarawa some 2000 miles to the west. 

And therein is the challenge the island poses to us, visitors pondering issues of sustainability.  In a manner similar to our previous island visits, we visited the village council and were received by the vice mayor of the largest village of Tabwakea (the mayor was away in Tarawa).  We were also received by the representative of the federal government, an assistant secretary at the Ministry for the development of the Line and Phoenix Islands, who, together with department heads from the water and sanitation and the electrical generation units, answered our questions about the challenges the island faces.

An additional element here was the presence of a sizeable community of NGO workers, mostly from New Zealand, embarked on various projects on the islands ranging from trash handling to the installation of water collecting systems.  We were able to hear some of their perspectives as well, and their accounts of the their work helped inform us of how other visitors perceive the island and its problems.

If this all isn’t enough, there is also the conflict between the island fauna and the islanders.  Estimates dating to the pre-second World War made this island a home to up to 20 million seabirds making Kiritimati the largest single seabird rookery in the world at the time.  Rats, cats and most directly the human consumption of eggs and birds alike has led to a precipitous decline in those numbers, and today less than 10% of that population remains.  One can only conclude that the human population has seriously reduced the seabird community in the whole of the central Equatorial Pacific, and is likely to do more despite many efforts for conserving land and birds alike.

So we left the island with many conflicting emotions.  The I-Kiribati people impressed all of us with their generosity, friendliness and sense of humor. Yet I think all of us see the serious challenges they face, making their lives on this sliver of land as they do.  Unlike all the other places we have visited, the people on Kiritimati do not have a millennium-long relationship with their island to help guide them.  We don’t have advice to give, but thank them for all that we learned during this rewarding, challenging visit!

Jan Witting
Chief Scientist

Mar

03

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 03 March 2013, 22:42
Position: 2° 00.4’ N x 157° 29.4’ W
Weather and Wind: Seas calm, Force 3 winds from ENE
Description of Location: Anchored off Kiritimati near London

Image Caption: The children of Poland were very excited to see so many visitors. We were excited to see them too.

Day 2 out of 3 on Kiritimati.

If you look at a map of the island, you’ll notice some of the villages and regions here have bizarre names, remnants of British military influence during World War II. Today we hopped in the back of trucks and drove through some of these places-from Tennessee through London through Banana, clockwise around the western part of the island, and into the village of Poland. We didn’t make it to Paris, but maybe next time.

Although this trip had been planned way in advance, all morning, we faced real doubts about whether the weather would let us carry out our plan. We awoke to what was a second day of pelting rain, the likes of which some locals said they hadn’t seen in years. But in the end, the verdict: pack your bags for a lot of rain; expect everything to get wet. And believe me when I say everything got wet. And soggy and surprisingly very cold.

Still, we dressed in bright yellows, blues, oranges-foul weather calls for foul-weather gear-and adventured forth like adventurers. We stopped and saw salt evaporation pools, a site of ancient Polynesian structures, terrestrial and sea birds, crabs. We saw the lagoon shore painted pink with bacteria. We stopped at a convenience store, JMB, owned by a Scottish fellow who moved to the island decades ago and doesn’t plan to return. At each stop, we talked with each other and as a group about what we saw.

But though we learned much as a group, most of the information presented to us appeared in the landscape between stops. In the four plus hours we spent in the back of trucks, I looked around and couldn’t feel more tangibly that I was in unfamiliar surroundings.

Around London, the largest village on the island, trash-instant Ramen boxes, foreign cookie wrappers, Coke and beer cans, plastics of all shapes and sizes-covers much of the natural landscape. There are essentially no attempts to manage or even hide the waste. Trucks on the road often carry what has to be at least twenty people, with passengers hanging off the top. The fronts of people’s houses-not sure if I can call them lawns or front yards-are made colorful by laundry lines, pigs, chicken, and kids wearing imported T-shirts. As many as a hundred people hang out in gathering places near church, at least when it’s raining. On the coral atoll of Kiritimati, there is vegetation, but apparently only two sizes: tall palm trees or knee-high bushes. I still don’t understand how most people can appear to live in absolute poverty, yet own motorbikes, cars, and trucks. I feel as though I’d have to be here for about a month before I’d start understanding what it feels like to live on Kiritimati.

Eventually, we made it to Poland, currently a village of eighty families. They had been expecting us. The rain kept some most away, but maybe four adults and thirty kids stuck around and talked with us. We introduced ourselves, they introduced themselves, and in middle of pouring rain, we asked each other questions about each other: what do they do for a living? Where are all of you from? What enjoy most about island life? What do you learn on the ship?

Even though the rain kept our visit short, we were still able to get an interesting, instructive snapshot of Kiritimati culture. For the families in Poland, producing copra and fishing are their entire lives. In school, their children learn English among other subjects, and eventually continue their education in London or thousands of miles away in the Kiribati’s capital, Tarawa. Many of the local residents don’t appear to spend much money, though they do spend money.

So much of their lives are bafflingly and appealingly simple-for instance, they catch and grow their own food, spend a lot of their time with their community in gathering places. But there are clearly many areas of their lives that urgently need attention-there are no hospitals on the island, the government is unorganized, and they have a waste management problem.

In any case, lots more to see and fingers crossed for warmer, drier weather. Up next: meeting with island officials!

Leonid Liu
Wesleyan University

Mar

02

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Saturday, 2 March 2013
Position: 2° 00.4’ N, 157° 29.3’ W
Location: At anchor, Kiritimati (Christmas Island)

Image Caption:  The Robert C. Seamans

With more than 2000 miles under our keel, we have seen a great swath of the South Pacific as we lie at anchor at Kiritimati (Christmas Island) just above the Equator.  I am reflecting on our passage and on the mariners who preceded us on this path.  Ancient Polynesians stopped here during the long migration that took them from the Marquesas to Hawaii seven centuries ago, and Captain James Cook named the island when he stopped here on Christmas Eve in 1776.

Ships from near our homeport made a huge impact as well.  Though the Robert C. Seamans has never been to Woods Hole, that is the place painted on the stern of our ship, and in the first half of the nineteenth century there were arguably more vessels from Massachusetts in the Pacific than from any country in Europe.  Boston traders sought goods to trade in China on the islands of Polynesia and along the west coasts of North and South America. Pioneered in 1787 by the ships Columbia and Washington, this trade brought several hundred American vessels into the Pacific.  Whalers followed around Cape Horn in 1791, from New Bedford, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Between 1810 and 1820, some four hundred Yankee whaleships ventured into the South Pacific; by 1840 that number had grown to more than 1000, and the range of voyages reached the Bering Straits and Arctic Ocean.  (We saw evidence of these early connections to the Pacific in the extraordinary collection of Polynesian artifacts at the Peabody Museum at Harvard, which we visited during the shore component.)

The impact of these voyages was profound.  The introduction of diseases on remote islands was devastating to local populations. Resources were exploited for commerce that today are endangered, including tortoises, sandalwood, sea otters, and whales.  The introduction of new species-some on purpose, like goats, coconuts and sugarcane, and others by accident, like rats-changed island ecosystems.  There were cultural changes as well.  New materials, ideas and technology were incorporated into and altered indigenous cultural practices.

We see the remnants of these changes everywhere we travel and have had nine weeks of lively discussion on these topics, with three more to come.  Students are processing information into papers and maps that will eventually find their way into our online Atlas.

200 years from now how will the people who follow in our path measure the impact that we and other twenty-first-century travelers have had on this fragile environment?  The infrastructure of modern life is hard on island ecosystems.  Imported petroleum fuels almost all of the energy needs we have seen thus far-an expensive choice that is clearly not sustainable. Sea-level rise associated with global climate change will make some coastal areas on islands we have visited uninhabitable, probably during the lifetimes of children we are meeting; on low-lying atolls the future is potentially catastrophic.

If there is one message that we are learning clearly, it is that we cannot simply travel without thinking about the role we play in a changing world.  We want to make informed choices, and hopefully the information we are gathering will allow us to do that.

Mary Malloy
Professor of Maritime Studies

Mar

01

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 01 March 2013. 23:17
Position: 2° 00.4’ N, 157° 29.3’ W
Description of Location: Just off the shores of New London, Kiritimati Island.
Weather and Wind: Seas very calm. Light winds, coming from ESE, as the moon rises from the same direction.

Image Caption Flashback: One of three nudibranchs (sea slugs) we caught in our plankton net during a science deployment this week.  I have not been so excited about an invertebrate for a long time (and that’s saying a lot). Head is on the right, tail on the left.

Merry Kiritimati!  I’m currently writing from the future, on March 2nd, 2013, as Kiritimati Island, part of the nation of Kiribati, shares the same time zone as the nation’s capital, which happens to lie on the other side of the international date line.

Today we brought the ship in to port just above the Southwest Point of Kiritimati (pronounced Christmas) Island at around 1100.  B watch did a lot of sail handling as we struck the storm trysail and the stays’ls and furled them as we made the deck look shipshape for the officials that would soon come aboard to check us in to the country.  The couple of hours preceding our arrival, and actually up until we dropped anchor, the Seamans was buffeted with squalls and high seas, with swells comparable to the first day of our departure from Tahiti, which had so many of us at the rail of the ship “donating to Neptune”.  Despite a month at sea already, I felt some nostalgia and was happy to be coming in to land soon.

We were hoping Customs officials would release us from quarantine on the ship and allow us to roam freely about Kiritimati.  In the meantime, we did a lot of waiting.  We actually waited for about four hours, which was a nice long spell to relax, write in journals, place some music and card games, snooze, and eat.  When the Customs official did arrive in the inflatable (picked up by our trusty second mate Rocky), he was in full uniform and completely barefoot.  If ever I end up wearing a uniform, I hope it’s one of them barefoot ones.

Tonight we had a really thought-provoking lecture by our resident cartographer, Jeff. He gave a presentation on the fellowship work he had been doing in the Society Islands (e.g. Tahiti) prior to our arrival, and through photographs, video, and other multimedia, had us consider the cultural change in Tahiti, Moorea, and Raiatea through its visibility in the physical, human landscape. Specifically, he had us consider the recent increase in high, often concrete walls beginning to box in homes and properties along roads and residential neighborhoods throughout Tahiti, and what that reflected about people’s dispositions to their communities.

Since the lecture, people have been marveling in the animal life around the boat. Dolphins have been gracing us with their presence for the better part of the evening, feeding on fish, checking out the boat.  We occasionally heard cackles coming from the waters around the boat during the lecture.  We also had a juvenile Phoenix Storm Petrel pay a visit to our deck during the lecture, though it wasn’t long before Jan got it off the deck and back into the air/water.

It has been a lovely day. Tomorrow is our first day on Kiritimati, and it will be a day of exploring and personal research. I myself am going to go find the hypersaline salt ponds of Kiritimati, that apparently glow pink from the species of bacteria that call those ponds home.

Hej Lisa and Peter and mom and dad! Hope all is well and buried in snow.

Erickson Smith
College of the Atlantic/B Watch

Feb

28

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 28 February 2013, 21:00
Position: 1° 13.3’N x 156° 56.3’ W
Location: Pacific Ocean, 30nm to Christmas Island

Image Caption: A watch jib strike time trial

Merry Christmas Island Eve!

It was a very festive day aboard the Robert C. Seamans as all of us aboard prepare for our next port stop in Christmas Island, part of the nation of Kiribati! For all of us in A watch the morning started out with Christmas decoration craft time for our watch meeting before afternoon watch.  We decorated the Main Saloon with snowflakes of green, red, and blue, made some Christmas cards, and palm tree Christmas trees to give the space a little Christmas cheer. Meanwhile, some of our shipmates were in the process of saving a flying fish that had made its way on deck! Fortunately for the fish it was C watch to the rescue, and the little guy made it safely back into Neptune’s realm.

During our afternoon watch, A watch did some time trials for striking the jib, to enhance our skills in case of fast moving squalls, something that is more likely to occur as we move farther north. Our first effort proved to be quite taxing and took 20 minutes, but after afternoon class, with stomachs full of delicious Christmas cookies made by Erickson and Sayzie, we managed to strike the jib, furl it on the bowsprit, and coil and hang all the lines in 7 minutes, a vast improvement, which I’m sure as we keep practicing will continue to be faster, rumor has it that it can be done in just two minutes!

Keeping with the holiday theme, dinner was Thanksgiving style with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce, and a midnight snack of milk, cookies, and carrots for Santa and his reindeer of course. There have also been whisperings of Christmas carol wake ups for those going on watch tomorrow, we will just have to wait and see. The night ended having avoided the squalls that threatened during the evening, lying on deck swapping childhood stories looking at the sky full of stars. Another wonderful day at sea.

Once we reach Christmas tomorrow we will once again be saying our tearful goodbyes to our phase two watch officers, and rotate to another mate/scientist pair and move into phase three, with which comes greater responsibility, a challenge I know myself and my shipmates are all looking forward too. It’s hard to imagine that in just two weeks’ time we will be disembarking in Hawaii, and looking back on this wonderful adventure and what we have learned about the both the sea and those who inhabit the small islands of the vast Pacific Ocean.

Lots of Love to Mama, Papi, Chich, G&G, Grannie and the fam downunder, BCFs, MAH and MCWRC.

Marissa Shaw
Middlebury College
A Watch

Feb

27

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday 27 February 2013 18:47:04
Position: 0 00.000’S , 155 14.600’W
Location: Crossing the Equator

Image Caption: Pictured below (on the starboard side) is the GPS that came out of hiding for the day. It usually remains covered up so that we have to determine our position using celestial navigation and sun reductions, but today the beloved GPS made a brief appearance for the big event: crossing the equator. On the port side is a group photo taken as we crossed!

Hannah Aichelman, the assistant steward for the day, made one of her favorite recipes from home—a very spicy and delicious rice, bean, and sausage dish. Yum. Immediately following lunch, it was time to go to class. Earlier in the day I had gotten word from a top-secret source that we would not actually be having class today due to some equator festivities, but none of the other students were aware of this little tidbit. The teachers began class like it was a normal day, but within the first five minutes everything changed. I cannot actually say what happened next because it is highly confidential, but let’s just put it this way: over the next four hours we did some things. Following these things we officially became shellbacks when our latitude reached 0 00.000’S.

As we crossed the equator, we were kindly gifted with the best snack ever to be had on Bobby C: ice cream. To those of you on land, this may seem like no big deal, but let me tell you it’s a huge deal out at sea. Having ice cream for snack on the boat is like hitting a hole in one on the golf course: extremely rare, unexpected, and amazingly satisfying. Watching people attempt to go in for seconds was like watching wolverines ready to pounce. It’s safe to say that this snack really hit the spot on a hot day in the South Pacific.

Dinner quickly approached. We had delicious homemade bread and some orange chicken along with potatoes, thanks to Sayzie and her assistant steward, Hannah. Following dinner everyone was completely exhausted. It was a long day to say the least. As I lay in my bunk thinking about the fact that I have to get up in a few hours for mid-watch from 11 pm – 3 am, I realize that while the day started off rough, it ended up being one of the best days so far on the trip. We really came together as a class and as a community today, and we shared an experience that we will always remember. If you’re wondering what it’s like to be a shellback, you’ll have to find out for yourself!

That’s all I’ve got for today. Looking forward to midnight snack—chocolate chip banana bread.

Quick shout out to my family – Mom, Dad, Steve, and PJ….and all the Binks of course. I will call you when we get to Christmas Island on Friday! xoxo

Caroline M. Yeager
Boston College/A Watch

Feb

26

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Tuesday 26 February 2013
Position: 1° 09.9’ S 153° 34.1’W

Image caption: Great Neptune

Pollywogs beware! Neptune is raising his mighty trident in a rage as these landlubbers approach his (up)dwelling! The cool breeze from the deep ocean waters sends a chill over the Seaman’s company as we inch closer and closer to the great being’s abode. We have made plentiful donations from our first excursions from the Southern island of Tahiti all the way up until the Swizzle donations of a few days ago, but none can foresee the wrath of Neptune. We must turn back or be cleansed and since none of us wish to turn from a challenge we move forward, faster as we motor through the night hoping that he won’t see us coming and sailing smoothly through the day in an effort to better our sea-fairing skills. By mid-day tomorrow we will hopefully have survived our encounter with Great Neptune but that is only if we can all learn our celestial navigation and how to furl the fisherman.

In preparation for the great crossing we feasted on foods from around the world. Our fearless steward, Sayzie, with her trusty assistant of the day, Marketa, took us from Eastern Europe in the Czech Republic with rich beef gulas and then down into India with a savory chicken and vegetable curry. It was a hardy feast of delectable delights for all the crew as it propelled us through the long day.

The day was filled with sail handling as we had to deal with light winds from the NE forward on our starboard beam. The Fisherman was hauled to its heights, flying high above our constant companion the main stays’l. As we learned about the limits of each sail and their great power as they move our vessel through flying fish infested waters, the Labbies slaved through the day. Working with samples collected throughout our journey, they sweat away in the dark dry-lab to find the levels of nitrate concentrations through various chemical reactions and the spectrophotometer, a time-consuming and intensive task which will help all of us with understanding the ocean and life below our deck and soles.

As we do every day, we gathered on the quarter deck to learn about the sea and the ship. How to calculate our position from the celestial bodies of the sun and stars, the power of the sails with their strengths and weaknesses, and what to do in order to avoid the catastrophe of Collision on the high seas. With our new knowledge we prepare to evade the wrath of the mighty trident.  All of our hard work and learning along with the looming encounter must be balanced in some way. In the last few minutes of mustering on the quarter deck a few of us pollywogs along with some hardy shellbacks came together in song singing of islands in the sun, strumming and singing on our out of tune guitar, banjo and ukulele.

Although our crew may feel prepared to meet with the almighty Neptune, our vessel is not yet cleansed of its impurities. My fellow watch mate, Sam, and I took on the filth of the reefer. Perhaps it sensed its proximity to the deity and shed its fears onto its soles for us to scrape out as we froze to our core, trapped, until t’was sparkling within its quivering walls. Now with a clean ship’s galley and somewhat prepared crew all we can do is wait to see our fate in the morrow.

To my dear friends and family, momma, Alex, Aj, Zacheus, Nicola, Gramma and Grampa, Lauren and many others, may Neptune return us safely to our hemisphere and that he may do so with most of our hair still attached to our heads.

Daphne Gill
Oregon State University/B Watch

Feb

25

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Monday 25 February 2013
Position: 2° 20.3 S X 151° 39.9 w

Image Caption: shooting stars

Looking up
Nights have been filled with the milky white light of the imminent full moon, which rose at the sunset this evening. The past few nights watching the deck, all was lit purely by the celestial bodies interspersed in the most intricate order throughout the sky. How fitting it is that we are delving deeper into learning the art of celestial navigation and sun calculation during this mythical time in the moon’s cycle. Using sextants, nautical almanacs, tables for calculation and a variety of other reference books the crew moves away from the comforts of modern geographical positioning technology. Putting our trust in the natural world around us and the knowledge of the past navigators who have gifted us their epic discoveries, we embark on a journey of knowledge that crosses all boundaries of time.

Despite the romanticized aura I have just bestowed upon you with my description of celestial navigation, it is actually quite laborious. It requires abundant amounts of mathematical calculations with numbers to be found in various pages of different nautical books. It entails squinting into the core of the suns fiery rays through a sextant, hopefully adding enough tint to the lens of the instrument so your eyes continue to function.

Also involved in this oh-so-technical process is the drawing of lines of position on the plotting charts with use of triangles and compasses. The latter is the most satisfying part of the process, as it means you have succeeded in procuring the location of yours truly, the Robert C. Seamans, merely with the assistance of the devices listed above and the smarts that got us all on this ship in the first place!

Minutes before dawn and dusk the sextants are retrieved and the watch on duty positions themselves at specific compass bearings around the ship: STAR FRENZY! The geographical positions of the stars are pre-computed and the excitement ensues because when star frenzy begins there is only a small portion of time allotted before the sun rises or sets and the moment is gone. During the day the sun is used as the celestial body to locate our position, and we draw “sun lines” on the plotting chart.

Before climbing the ladder to enjoy life above the deck, I have spotted many of the crew members taking peeks at the charts to see our location as it nears the equator and Christmas Island, closer and closer with each sail setting and line maneuvering. Speaking of which, today is the first day we have had such a fantastic combination of sails: the fish, the Raffee and the square sails. This combination is a telltale sign of wonderfully cooperative winds. The trade winds that the navigators of past seas reverently extolled are undoubtedly filling our most prized combination of sails. 

During downtime, many crew members and junior crew members find time to relax and enjoy lighter activities. Copious ukulele and guitar playing (even banjo) can be heard from various places around deck. Singing sweet songs and melodies reminiscent of our time on land, we are torn between a love of the sea and a longing for land, like all true sailors. The sea does strange things to you.

Mia Pinheiro
University of Vermont
C Watch

Feb

24

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 24 February, 2013
Position: 3° 56.6.0’ S x 149°  11.1’ W

Image Caption: SWIZZLE

What a day! This second phase of the trip is quite intense! We are learning to navigate without the GPS, which means we are relying on our steering skills, as well as on our celestial navigation, and sun reduction skills. There have been rumors the mates and the captain, have been secretly checking the GPS.

We are also learning how to track and plot squalls, which is not as easy as it sounds; these clouds are sneaky! They spread to the point you can’t see them anymore, they grow bigger, and even combine forces. However, once mastered, it is quite fascinating to be able to determine how far away these squalls are from the ship, which helps us prepare ahead of time. Creating the celestial fix is not an easy task either: lots of precise numbers, degrees, deviations, minutes, degrees, conversions, almanacs involved. A second off, means miles and miles away.

I keep imagining how people navigates in the past; especially those explorers who, after navigating for months, and perhaps even years, spot land from far away. We left Nuku Hiva five days ago, and we have yet to encounter traffic (except for the occasional flying fish and boobies - great companion so far) nor land.

Part of phase two is to be the mate’s shadow; we are now mini-mates. Today was my first day and let me tell you; these six hours (from 0700 to 1300) seemed to be more packed with duties than the usual. All of us had a chance to practice almost all of our watch period, something we were taught in the past days; celestial fix, fancy weather we report to NOAA, plotting our position on a navigation chart, using the sextant, and plotting squalls that were vigorously following us. We are starting to have more responsibilities on lab as well, and becoming mini-scientists. In resume, a busy morning.

We were relieved by B Watch at 1300, we had lunch, and about an hour and a half to spare until class started. Mia and I sat on the most comfortable spot on the ship (which shall remain a secret), and read our books, chatted, gazed at the horizon and re-realized we are in the middle of the ocean, sailing! This has to be one of the biggest adventures I have been involved in so far. It is amazing to be reading about the Pacific, and suddenly be here; living the life of the open ocean. As Mia and I were wondering about past sailors, navigators, explorers, adventurers, we had to go to class, and shortly after, prepare for our first SWIZZLE; which involved Togas. Yes. We wore our sheets, pareos, and the occasional towel. We had chips with salsa and guacamole, with a refreshing pineapple juice and ginger ale drink. We listened to Chrissy play the ukulele and Sam play the “duck instrument”- that’s the best way I can describe it.

As we were hanging out, relaxing, (at which point this idea of the first sailors was invaded by Greeks) we heard the MOB (Man Over Board) signal. Do not panic. It was only a drill, even though it did manage to speed up my heart beat.  We had to quickly go to our positions and preceded with the rescue of the MOB poles. It was a successful rescue - we were ready in 9 minutes. Colleen and Liann (on the rescue boat) were disappearing within the swells which are becoming prevalent as we approach the equator. The rescue was a success. It must have been exciting for the sea creatures, especially for the ‘man-of-war’ given that one of them managed to attach itself to the rescue boat and hug Marissa once on board. But the excitement was such, than one person was not enough, so it hugged Max (our assistant engineer) as well.  They might not think so, but that is possibly one of the most sentimental tattoos one can receive from the artist!

Abre los ojos y ves hacia la aventura!!!

Violeta Borilova Mezeklieva
Bard College
A Watch

Feb

23

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

Saturday 23 February 2013, 19:45
Position: 4° 29.1’ S x 148° 01.0’ W
Location: Approaching the Equator!

Hello All!
The sun has set on another beautiful day aboard the Bobby C! C watch brought in the new day on mid-watch this morning, falling back into our bunks at 3am to attempt a few more hours of sleep. Waking up after mid watch is always tough, but the morning brought a day of firsts for me. The most exciting was going ALOFT! This is what it is all about people! All of the students on board have worked really hard since departing Papeete to learn the basics of life at sea. Just a few examples of what we have learned: the sails and lines associated, the location of all the fire extinguishers on board, the responsibilities of being on watch, how to “drive the bus”, and more!

Anyways, all of our hard work has resulted in the awesome reward of being able to go aloft. What an incredible experience! C watch was the last group to go up, with the other watches having gone aloft yesterday, but it was well worth the wait. After donning our harnesses and going through safety orientation, we went aloft. We were treated to a beautiful view of the Seamans and an even more beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, which was an especially inspiring shade of blue today. We climbed up the windward side of the foremast, holding on to the shrouds and stepping on the ratl’ns until we reached the platform just above the course yard. Some of the more adventurous C-watchers continued the climb all the way up to the top yard. The best part is that now, with aloft orientation out of the way, the students are all able to go aloft as often as we like, with the mate’s permission of course. My first time aloft is something I will never forget, and I can’t wait to go even higher next time!

Another exciting first was my first dolphin sighting! We were lucky enough to watch a large pod of dolphins feeding for a few minutes before they disappeared on the horizon. They didn’t hang around for too long, but just long enough for a few of us to spot them with the binoculars.  And yet another new experience (if you can’t tell, living on a boat for the first time comes with a LOT of new experiences) was the infamous gear adrift auction! Essentially, any personal item found in a community space gets sent to the dark, scary, and smelly world of gear adrift. Since gear adrift is only a couple of crates in the bottom of the foulie locker, it fills up pretty quickly. And once that happens, it is auction time! Colleen and Chrissy, First Mate and Second Scientist, modeled all of the lovely gear adrift items for the students to reclaim. But of course you can’t just take the gear back; you have to sufficiently entertain the crew. Today the group was treated to a multitude of exciting acts; including Daffy Duck noises from Rachel and Justin’s incredible paper cup-making skills. Needless to say everyone got a good laugh! I have been sufficiently encouraged to keep my stuff in my own bunk.

Another day complete means another day closer to the equator! All the pollywogs onboard the Seamans are anxiously awaiting our arrival to see what sort of shenanigans will be involved. I cannot wait to cross and officially become a shellback!

Shout-out time! Daddy and Julie, I hope all is well at home! I love you guys to infinity and back and I want you to know that I am having the time of my life out here! I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it when I get home. Jay, I know you are killing it at UNC! I love you and I miss you lots! And to all my lovely friends in Chapel Hill and elsewhere, I love you all!! 

Hannah Aichelman
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
C Watch

Feb

22

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 22 February 2013
Position: 5° 41.6’ S x 145°  49.4’ W
Location: Sailing to Kiritimati

Image Caption: Aloft with the topsail

Today’s blog entry begins with paying homage to that often mysterious and extremely crucial part of the boat known as the engine room. At the start it was a loud, hot, place full of strange machinery and a unique talent for inducing seasickness. It is still a loud, hot place but a little more familiar, especially after being assigned to the engine room for all of Morning Watch (0700-1300). This morning entailed a lot of shutting on and off valves and learning about the water makers. The water makers are actually a fascinating part of the boat, producing fresh water almost twice as fast as we use it. Being on a ship makes you really think about how much water you consume every day, and also how easy it is to cut down on that amount once you are required to.

Then there was Celestial Navigation. This involves standing on the rolling deck (seas are about 4-5 ft today) with the sextant held up to one eye desperately trying to find the little bright spot that is the sun and line it up with the horizon, then using degree measurements from that, combined with some math and calibrations to determine a line of Latitude that we are currently sailing on.  The line I calculated today was for the LAN (local apparent noon) or when the sun is directly overhead. On that note – it is amazing how high the sun arcs in the sky and how it is almost directly overhead at midday as we come closer to the equator.

In other news – we have started going aloft!  Both A and B watches have successfully made the climb up the foremast. My watch will be going up tomorrow!

In science we caught a blue nudibranch in the neuston tow this morning…and lots of man o’ wars. Everyone is starting to work on their respective oceanography projects as the data coming in from our deployments is reaching a sizeable amount.

On a more introspective note – the ocean today has been the ocean that sailors (or at least myself) dream about. Deep Pacific blue with rolling waves and a fresh breeze that carries us along. Flying fish leap out of the waves and skip along the surface before plopping back into the surface. There is nothing more humbling and inspiring than being out in the middle of the ocean aboard a ship. The other night I was on bow watch and we were sailing right along the golden track of moonlight reflecting in the water. It is moments like those that can never be replicated on land, and will always draw me back to the sea.

And now a few shout-outs:
To the Fam– I hope you guys know I’m having the time of my life out here! Sending lots of love back to you guys. To Mike – I hope you’re eating your veggies and picking up your socks.

From Erickson: Happy Anniversary Lisa Stor Kram.

Tasha Greenwood
C Watch

Feb

21

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 21 February 2013
Position: 6° 37.9’S x 144° 11.8’W
Wind from SE, force 3

Image Caption: Colleen, Mackenzie and Brie hanging out on the labtop.

Another beautiful day on the Seamans! Nuku Hiva was wonderful, but it is great to be back in open water and re-entering the rhythm of life on the sea. But what is the rhythm of life here? The idea of “a day in the life” aboard Mama Seamans is hard to describe due to the lack of a definable day. At home most of us wake up, do various work and activities and then go to sleep. This pattern provides the ability to form routines and therefore make best use of time in a day. Things are very different at sea. For instance, my day began at 0230 this morning and a returned to my bed at 0800 for a nap. Throughout the day I went to class, napped again, learned a Czech song from Marketa, worked on a paper, napped again and stood watch again. This new way of life brings up questions most of us have never had to think about before such as: when do I brush my teeth? When do I have time to do my laundry and let it dry before twilight? (when it will get mercilessly thrown into the depths of gear drift if not removed in time.) And most importantly, when can I sleep?? On the watch schedule every day is different and each set of shifts presents new challenges when it comes to budgeting time. I am happy to say that everyone is settling more into a personal and collective rhythm.

Despite no defined “before bed” and “in the morning”, we are all remembering in our own ways to brush our teeth once or twice every 24 hours. (you would be astounded how hard this was in the beginning and still is for me personally.) After being back at sea for several days are bodies are re-adjusting to the sea sleep schedule, and faster than before! It is increasingly common to see students awake while off watch. Whether they are working, reading, playing music or just relaxing the decrease in napping shows a huge adjustment to life on board and bodes well for the fun and productivity in days to come!

Although we are trying to find patterns and familiarity in this foreign and crazy situation, we are always doing new things as well!  In addition to the use of our (huge and exciting) squares’ls, we put up the Raffee for the first time today which means we have now used every sail on board. Fun fact: it is the only original sail on the Seamans. There have also been exciting developments in class. We are beginning to hear progress reports from small groups, we met with our oceanography groups for the first time today, and Rachel announced that she created a sign-up sheet for free 15-minute massages. What a lucky crew!

Lots of love to Mama, Papa, Jeremy and all my wonderful friends wherever you may be. Can’t wait to swap stories with you all!

Tasha Carter
Gordon/ C watch

Feb

20

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday 20 February 2013
Position: 7° 35’ S x 142° 21’ W

Image Caption: A watch sunrise on the quarter deck!

Today was our first full day at sea since our arrival to Nuka Hiva almost a week ago. We were all sad to say farewell to all of the people and places that we grew close to on the island. With no time wasted on the Seamans, we jumped right back into sea life around 0200 with an emergency alarm ringing throughout the Sleepy Hollow cabin. Following protocols, Caroline and I leapt up out of our beds thinking a man was overboard. To our relief, we turned the corner to see an anonymous shipmate mumbling to Dusty (the all-star engineer on the ship), “Oops I think I pressed the wrong button.” A great start to a great day back on the Seamans.

Thirty minutes later, A Watch and I woke to get ready to stand watch from 0300 to 0700. We sailed under clear skies with a blanket of stars. We studied constellations and learned to identify the Southern Cross, Scorpio, the Big Dipper, and many other navigational stars. Although land was far out of sight, we were surrounded by an abundance of shooting stars, bioluminescence, and distant squalls. Around 0500 we welcomed the rising sun with some coffee and a little bit of yoga (expertly led by Devon, of course). Dawn watch flew by and as soon as we knew it we could enjoy some down time. Some of us slept, while others drafted papers and worked on our individual and group research projects. As usual, Sayzie whipped up an amazingly refreshing snack and we sipped on some blueberry smoothies while the sun beat down directly overhead.

Our next task to tackle was FIELD DAY at 1400. For those who don’t know what Field Day is, it’s not what it sounds like.  All of the students and crew basically drop everything and scrub the boat from bow to stern. Everything down below gets brought on deck, scrubbed, and returned. The whole process takes a few hours and it’s amazing (and also disturbing) to see how much “mung”, as we call it, can accumulate over the week. Thanks to Marissa’s amazing playlist selections, A watch sang, danced, and scrubbed around the galley until every spec of dirt was gone. Once the boat looked brand-new and our hands and knees were imprinted with dirt, grime, and sweat (dad, you would be so proud), we got the ultimate reward. The fire hose shower. We all stood on the science deck as Colleen pelted us with water at extremely high speeds. You would think that this would be a little unpleasant and even painful (which it is at some moments) but you’d also be very surprised at how clean you feel afterward. Definitely the highest-pressure shower I could ever dream of. When field day festivities came to end, all of the students and officers went back to the normal watch rotation and ship life continued on for the day.

As a new chapter in our sail begins, we will learn how to take command of the ship and work together in our watches to become masters of the skills we just learned weeks ago. Soon we will be expected to sail the ship on our own with minimal assistance from our watch officers. We have many days at sea ahead and as Jon mentioned in the last post, the equator is coming up fast on the horizon! Marketa and I calculated that if we continue sailing at an average 5 nautical miles per hour, we will cross the equator on February 24th at 0929. Stay tuned for more updates!

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Mom, Dad, Matt, Chuck, Tim, and my friends and family all over the east coast and the globe! Love and miss you all!

Jessica Reade
Roger Williams University/ A Watch

Feb

19

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Tuesday 19 February 2013, 20:30
Position: 8° 51’ S 140° 43’ W
Description of Location: Underway to Christmas Island

Image Caption: A man opens marine snail, or Maoa, shells for lunch in Nuku Hiva.

Just like that, another island is behind us. As we hauled in the anchor this morning and prepared the ship for our voyage to Christmas Island, a cool flurry of rainfall swept in from the east to greet our crew on deck. Much appreciated by all, the arrival of rain enveloped the grandiose cliffs of Nuku Hiva in a misty fog, leaving an awe-inspiring, smoky silhouette in our wake as we slipped out of Taiohae Harbor. No sooner did the rain stop than the wind picked up, giving way to a golden morning sun and reminding us all of the power and freedom of open water. Land melted away behind us, and our focus turned back to the sea. Life is good.

This departure marks the beginning of a new phase in our journey. Everyone is becoming intimately familiar with how the ship works, together adapting to the rigorous schedule and keen attention to detail needed to keep things running smoothly. However, with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility. Over the next few weeks, we students will begin to adopt many of the daily duties essential for proper ship function. The goal is for the student crew to gradually take autonomous responsibility for hourly boat checks and lab work, scientific gear deployments and data processing, sail handling and weather observations, and eventually work up to full navigation of the vessel. We have a long way to go, but we have already come far. Two weeks ago, we were presented with a diagram of the 80+ lines that control the sails and operations of the ship and told to memorize them. It was completely overwhelming. Yet, now just 14 days later, we are all gaining a masterful handle on them. Setting and striking sails is markedly faster, helmsmen are more confident in their course, and the ship is becoming less of a complicated tool and more of an affectionate home. No matter how low the low or how high the high, when I look out at the horizon and to the endless ocean below, it is hard to imagine a place I would rather be.

We are sailing a track that has inspired legend and myth, a path that throughout history has been wrought with risk and opportunity. Between keeping the ship in top shape, perpetually collecting and analyzing new data in lab, keeping up with our papers and projects while still getting some sleep, we have our hands full. But in those moments of peace, beneath the starry sky looking out at endless ocean, walking beneath the cliffs on the quiet shores of Nuku Hiva, and manning the helm to steer this mighty vessel, the gravity of our circumstance is unmistakable. We have been transported from our homes into unfamiliar habitat: an abode with new windows through which to experience ourselves and those with whom we share this planet. It is supremely invigorating, and I could not have asked for a better group of companions.

We’re four days from crossing the Equator, and nine days from Christmas Island. The forecast looks good, and the winds are in our favor. Love you Mom, Dad, and Katie! Be warned, land lubbers, as the Equator is a funny place. it has been known to elicit unbridled euphoria and wildly radical haircuts. Stay tuned!

Jon Butler
Hampshire College / C watch

Feb

18

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Monday 18 February 2013, 19:40
Position: 8° 55’ X S 140° 06’ W
Description of Location: Taiohae Harbor, Nuku Hiva

Image caption: Arnold graciously explaining the hydroponic plants, while SEA students interpreted.

We spent our final full day in Nuku Hiva with a double hitter with the students of the local agriculture school. They boarded the Seamans for the home game, where the students were finally able to give back to the island that has given us so much. After a brief orientation, the Seamans left the harbor for a morning sail. The language barrier proved to be a familiar challenge, but our guests (all teenage boys) spoke an international macho language: for once the students and crew were able to sit back while the Marquesian students eagerly proved their strength on the lines. Once underway, the students and crew of the Seamans were able to give some tours to the agriculture students, and they even got to lay on the head rig.

The Seamans hove to for a brief science deployment as well. The Neuston net yielded a particularly abundant pristine sample, including an eel larvae. Upon seeing the teachers’ fascination with the specimen, Jan preserved it in formalin and gave it to the school. Giving such a meaningful gift that could further educational interests fostered a feeling of immense pride. It was nice to leave a tangible legacy with people who would hopefully appreciate it for years to come. Before returning to the harbor we submerged the carousel, and the visiting students got to grasp its abilities by feeling the temperature difference between the strata of water sampled.

The afternoon away game was just as exciting. A brief hike brought us to the foot of the mountain where we were welcomed by two Marquesian traditional songs, accompanied by two guitars, a mandolin and a drum. Arnold, one of the boarding students, led the SEA students on a tour through his sprawling campus. We saw their classrooms, workshops, hydroponic plants, gardens, greenhouses and pig sty. We also met their ferociously friendly dog, Diego (who claimed he was a mutt but probably was a horse).

The students were excited to show off their school as well as their intricate agriculture skills. They beamed as they showed us the structures they had built and the fruits and vegetables they had planted. The life skills that they gain at school will surely prove their value when they go home to their agricultural families. The other vocational classes include electricity, mechanics, artisanal woodwork and shop. They supplement this curriculum with math, and language classes, among others.

Our day came to a close with a hike up a hill, where we enjoyed fresh pineapple and enjoyed the view together. Upon our descent, we snacked some more and said goodbye to our exchange students. Both groups of students were very appreciative of the symbiotic cultural and educational exchange that transpired today, and the rounds of Kotao’s (thank you in Marquesian) were particularly heartfelt. Today marked a superb ending to our time in Nuku Hiva, and I know I’ll be sorry to see this island in our wake tomorrow as we set sail for Christmas Island.

Sam Koss
Cornell University/ B watch

Feb

17

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 17 February 2013, 21:53
Position: 8° 56’ S x 140°  6’ W

Image Caption: Killin’ it in the canoe

Sunday at the Outrigger Club

It was another wonderful day on the beautiful island of Nuku Hiva for the students and crew of the Robert C. Seamans!  The day started out with some of my fellow shipmates attending church early this morning at the local Catholic Church in Taiohae, and then at 0800 the rest of us went ashore and walked over to the local Outrigger Club for an all-day gathering the club was hosting.  We all jumped in to help set up the massive amount of food the club was preparing with some of us making coconut milk from freshly shave coconut, while others squeezed lemons, or helped prepare the crab. It was a lovely experience to be able to help prepare the large meal, and to learn some local cooking traditions and techniques at the same time.

Once we had been helping out for a while, many people from the town started to arrive and the canoes were carried into the water.  Everyone had their hand in paddling a modern outrigger canoe, some of us engaging in a friendly race or two with the other canoes. We were taught that the front paddler sets the side of the canoe for the rest of the paddlers, and the Captain sets the rhythm to an eight-count, with you switching sides after each count of eight, it was quite the arm workout! After we had all had a chance to paddle around Taiohae Bay, lunch was ready, and boy was it fabulous.  There was pork, chicken, goat, smoked banana, Poisson crux, and rice, just to name a portion of what was served.  All the while, a group of very talented musicians serenaded our lunch with the sounds of guitar, ukulele, and their voices. With full and happy stomachs everyone took some time to just absorb the surroundings, the music, the children playing in the water, and engaging in conversation with the locals.

Then thanks to Jan and Mia, a couple of us had the opportunity to sail around the bay on Gene, the small sailboat that travels with the Seamans. It was a lovely way to experience the bay in addition to the canoeing we had participated in throughout the morning and afternoon. Around 14:00 many of us said our goodbyes and thank you’s to our gracious hosts, and headed out for a little more island exploration before we need to be back on deck for all hands dinner at 17:30. After a wonderful dinner of Mac n’ Cheese, we were informed that it would be movie night! After great debate and negotiation, a democratic process deemed Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl our movie of choice.  We all enjoyed the movie and some of the nautical terms within from a new light having lived aboard the Seamans now for 18 days, and it was the perfect way to wrap up another fantastic day in the Marquesas.

Now I’m off to sleep on the Quarterdeck under the millions of beautiful stars! Much love to Mama, Papi, G&G, my BCFs and MCWRC. G’Day to the fam Downunder. Love you all.

Marissa Shaw
Middlebury College/ A Watch

Feb

17

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 17 February 2013, 19:21
Position: 8° 56’ ’S, 140° 6’ ’ W
Description of location: Anchored at the Bay of Taiohae, Nuku Hiva.
Weather / Wind: Fair weather. Light ExN wind. Calm seas, 1ft.

Image Caption: Children from Hatiheu welcomed us by performing traditional dance and songs.

Exploring the mountains and valley of Nuku Hiva
This morning we rolled out with (almost) the first light, ate a hearty breakfast, hopped on rented cars, and the island exploration adventure began! Along the way we made numerous stops to admire natural wonders of this island and to learn about its culture and history. The road was running steeply uphill in thousand curves, but fortunately our cars had good brakes. Our first stop was a view at Massachusetts Bay, a place where Captain David Porter anchored and nostalgically named it after his home. Then we proceeded to another valley which used to be inhabited by the Happas, the most powerful tribe on the island. We also observed the geologic history on the exposed layers of volcanic bedrock. After some more driving we met a copra farm and talked with the farmer and his apprentice about many aspects of their work. Their goal is to produce 5,000t of copra per year. We also learned that a life-span of a coconut tree is about seventy years. As most of the trees in this farm were planted by the current manager’s grandfather, it is now time to start replanting new trees to increase the production.

As we descended toward the village of Hatiheu we were warmly welcomed by children performing a traditional dance and a song. They gave everyone lei made of leaves and a kiss on cheek. It was such a great welcome into their home and culture! After several grand rounds of applause and their contagious happy giggling we got to explore an old settlement, including petroglyphs engraved onto large boulders and a place of human sacrifice. My personal favorite was an ancient tree (Ficus prolifera) with a hole in the middle which used to serve as a prison. At the same time this tree was sacred to the people as it represented a connection between them and the gods. A little after noon we were served a delicious lunch, consisting of shrimp from the creek bubbling right behind us and breaded fish, in mamma Yvonne’s restaurant. Instead of siesta some of us went to play and body surf in the waves – on the beach with black sand underneath very dramatically sloping hills.

Before setting off for our return journey we visited a little museum of local culture, organized also by Yvonne. Although small in size this museum holds a great depth of information and artifacts (e.g. tattoo devices, axes, fish hooks) of the Marquesan culture and history. During our visit to the Harvard Peabody Museum in January we have seen some of these objects already. But it is entirely different and may I say stronger feeling to see them in their original place.

I would like to note how impressed and touched I feel about this community we just visited. They are working hard toward restoration and maintenance of their culture. During our program we learned that this is not an easy task considering Polynesia’s history of European and American invasion. It is thus incredible to see how proud people are of their culture and how much they strive for its survival. I feel honored that during our voyage we have met many remarkable people who have been excited to share their culture with us. Every day I keep being amazed at the generosity and kindness we have been receiving ever since our arrival to Papeete. I hope that we learn from them bring their gifts back home with us.

I’‘m off to sleep on the deck underneath tonight’s millions of stars. Much love and many hugs to everyone from the Marquesas!

Markéta Doubnerová
College of the Atlantic / A Watch

Feb

16

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 16 Febuary 2013, 19:45
Position: 8° 56’ S x 140° 6’ W
Description of Location: Anchored in Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva; Marquesas

Image Caption: Henry’s Grandsons Preforming Ukelele

Welcome to Nuku Hiva
After a wonderful excursion in Hakatea, it was time to explore the other side of the island. Our first day in Nuku Hiva began with a thought provoking and informative meeting with the first mayor, Deborah, for the village of Taiohae. Deborah was a great resource to inform us about Nuku Hiva and the Marquesas. Among the logistical questions of Nuku Hiva we inquired about for our projects, Deborah generously shared with us some insight into the island culture and modern traditions.

Deeply rooted in the Marquesas’ history and community, she was among the founders of a Cultural Revival Festival at a time when she described culture to be dwindling between generations.  The first festival began in 1987 as a mode of looking back to appreciate ancient traditions and teach new generations practices they would be proud to celebrate. Every four years one of the islands hosts the festival for all of the Marquesan communities to come together and revel in their island’s unique dance, song, food etc. 26 years and eight festivals later, Deborah is glad to say that it has been a success in reviving an excitement to celebrate their special traditions.

Following a wonderful conversation and snacks at town hall, we were free to explore the beautiful Nuku Hiva and get to know locals for our projects. Surrounding the bay where we anchored is a small strip of town surrounded by monstrous volcanic island peaks covered with lush island tropics. We split up into groups and ventured around town gawking at the unbelievable scenery and saying “Kaoha” (hello) to local people. While there was time to stop by the post office or the market to pick up gifts and souvenirs, the information we sought for our projects sent groups in different directions around town.  One group visited the one local hotel for their tourism project, another to grocery stores and the farmers market for a food and commerce project, the fisheries group to the dock to interview nearby fishermen, etc.

My group stopped into Yacht Services seeking information about the how the harbor works in this community. We were directed to a man named Henry who spoke some English and was able to answer some of our questions. Henry is a very funny character who we had an entertaining time trying to communicate with. Like everyone we have met so far, he was very nice and willing to
help. While we were chatting about the harbor, we could not help but notice his two young grandsons fighting for his attention. Definitely the most adorable part of our day was when Henry gave his grandsons ukuleles and put out a bowl for them to play for tips. They put on a little performance for us, which was just about the cutest thing any of us had seen.  My group-mate Meagan offered his grandsons toy bracelets she had brought from home. In return for answering our questions, Henry asked us to teach him one English word- the word being, bracelet.

After winding down at beach and enjoying a cup (or two) of pineapple ice cream, most of the group went back to the boat to get ready for their watch. A handful of us who were off watch for the night hit the town to get dinner and check out the island nightlife. The restaurant we visited offered nice outdoor seating and, little did we know, a performance of a Marquesan dance called the “Haka”. To our pleasant surprise, half-way through our dinner the servers started clearing the center of the room of all the tables. In walked a group of 15 men adorning pareus and decorative fern leafs with two drums nearly three quarters of my height! For the next 20 minutes, we watched at the edge of our seats as they sung the most beautiful chants and preformed the “Haka” two feet from our table.

By 2200 it was time to head back to the boat and get some rest before piling into off-road trucks to venture into neighboring valleys the next day. Let me just say that between the excitement of learning how to live the life of a tall ship sailor and beginning our adventures in at a new and wonderful port stop in Nuku Hiva- we have been having the time of our lives in a way I don’t think any of us could have expected. This adventure has begun to really burst our typical bubbles of college life and throw us into a world of tiring yet rewarding watch schedules, a ship community of all sorts of characters to learn about, and port stops that will knock the socks off even the most seasoned travelers.

P.S. A quick shout out and warm Happy Valentine’s day to my dad, Joey and all my friends and family following our adventures in the South Pacific. Missing you all, sending my love. <3

Briana Bernstein
UC Santa Cruz
C/Watch

Feb

14

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 14 February 2013; 20:00
Position: 8° 56.7’S 140° 09.9’W
Location: Anchored off shore of Hakatea

Image Caption: Hiking to the waterfall

Valentine’s Day in Nuku Hiva…Or as we Seamonsters like to say “Ballentine’s Day”. 

The day of love was full of love as two of our classmates, Erickson and Mia, tied the knot in a lovely traditional Nuku Hivan ceremony.  The couple realized their love after only a few short days onboard, and are blissfully happy-this begs the question if the RCS should be named the “The Love Boat” instead. KIDDING, Erickson and Mia only served as volunteers Bright and early this morning the company of the Seamans pulled us into Hakatea, an alluring and picturesque bay in Nuku Hiva.  Around 8:00 this morning our small boats stormed the black sand beach in an amphibious landing reminiscent to the
landings at Normandy (minus the warfare part), but not after gathering our strength for the day with a Valentine’s-themed breakfast complete with pinkest of oatmeal.
     
Once on land for the first time in six days, we engaged in an archaeological project with our very own Moohono Niva who is gathering data from the historical sites of the area to send to the French Polynesian government before trekking through the lush valley and highlands to a spot called “the waterfall”.  The hike to the waterfall (which is actually a volcanic basin?) itself was a treat; the path in large part was laid rocks underfoot from the original inhabitants of the island, while the lush vegetation and vista looked to be taken straight out of an otherworldly science fiction movie.  We were greeted with gleeful echoes of splashes from our shipmates before we saw them in the winding basin.  Donning our swimming wear, the SPICErs wasted no opportunity diving into the fresh water pool.  We spent the next hour rock jumping, floating around, and having our toes nibbled by the shrimp that occupied the water.

After becoming sufficiently pruney from the jaunt in the water we hiked back to Hakatea and were greeted by an extremely friendly local woman who gave us a much needed energy boost snack of fresh papaya and bananas (if you haven’t tried a French Polynesian banana, you haven’t had a real banana) on her porch while we waited for the rest of the group to rejoin us, a perfect example of the graciousness and friendliness that exuded from all the townspeople.  Snack finished and the entire group intact we headed to a homestead on the beach (the property of the former tribal king and queen) to learn about their traditional wedding ceremony.  Erickson and Mia were used as volunteers to act out the ceremony, chosen for their bounteous heads of hair.  They proceeded to be slathered head to toe (but mostly head) in a coconut oil mixture, sat back to back on the traditional wedding alter and had their manes braided together as the rest of the ceremony was explained to us-if that doesn’t spell out eternal love, folks, I don’t what does.  To celebrate the union of Erickson and Mia we again indulged in local fruits of pamplemousse, star fruit, breadfruit chips, mangoes, and dried bananas.  As evening came we departed our new friends for the RCS with armfuls of fresh fruit-another showing of local generosity.  Once all were accounted for onboard we said au revoir to Hakatea and sailed to the main city of Taiohae.  We anchored just off shore, and ended a day full of love with red cupcakes topped with sugar hearts.

Lastly a little shout out to my family and friends, miss you all lots, and contrary to popular belief, I AM surviving ship life! And Mom and Dad, be mine? P.S. Send money <3

Jayme Smith
George Washington University/ Bee Watch

Feb

13

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday 13 February 2013, 7:50 PM
Position: 9° 23.02’ S 140° 11.7’ W
Location: Marquesas Islands, ALMOST to Nuku Hiva!!!

Image Caption: Hanging out on the head rig with land in sight!!! Carson, Hannah and Jenny

Greetings from the South Pacific! We have had a lot to celebrate today out here on the Robert C Seamans on this beautiful Wednesday. Today is our lovely Meghan’s 20th birthday, so what started as fat Tuesday yesterday continued into an even fatter Wednesday today (and nobody is complaining). I had the pleasure of being assistant steward today and was cooking in the galley with our awesome steward Sayze, so apologies in advance because I don’t have much to say about anything that went on on deck. Anyway, in honor of the big birthday Sayze and I slaved over some beautiful (and I mean B-E-A-UTIFUL)  tie-dye cupcakes which unfortunately Meghan could not eat, but everybody else enjoyed while she got her own special birthday treat!!!

Another SUPER exciting occurrence of the day was that we spotted LAND!!!!! YAY! land ho land ho!!!! At around 2:30 we started to see the island of Ua Pou in the distance heading closer and closer. Our excitement grew during class as we learned about the itinerary for the next 5 days. Tomorrow we will be reaching Nuku Hiva at first light where we will then be embarking at 0700 on (and this is a direct quote) “an epic waterfall hike” which will take us all day. The next few days we will be doing project work and some island exploring before departing on our 10 day sail to Christmas Island. I don’t want to spoil ALL of the surprises that we have in store in one post so I will keep you guys on your toes. In other news, dinner tonight was Pork Loin with blue cheese cooked in apples and onions with a greek salad, quinoa and (of course) a non-meat option of tofu for all of us veg-heads on board. Midnight snack is brownies with Oreos and marshmallows, so needless to say, whether it’s because we are well fed or excited about the next few days everyone is in great spirits!

In keeping up with the spirit of celebration I would like to send a little personal early Valentines day shout out and lots of x’s and o’s to Dylan and my family back home. Miss you and love you all tons and hope that you guys can still carry on tomorrow even though the eternal light and love of your lives (me) cannot be there to celebrate. All jokes aside, I hope that everyone reading has a wonderful day v-day full of love and happiness <3! Stay tuned for what is sure to be an epic and hilarious recount of our waterfall adventure from Jayme who is next up for blogs and always a constant source of comic relief!! Thanks for reading!!

Carson Mehl
Union College/ Watch B (for BEST)

Feb

12

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Tuesday 12 February 2013, 19:35
Position: 11° 00.8’ S x 141° 30.8’ W

Image Caption: “Let the games begin”

Without a doubt, Fat Tuesday came and went in style. The day was made by our rockstar Steward, Sayzie, who spoiled us rotten. Days on the boat can be long and definitely start to blend together, but today was not your average day on the water. Mardi Gras will not be forgotten, and at the very least the many pounds I seemingly gained today will stay with me (it’s a good thing we have mastered the 8 minute abs and power leg sets on deck). After a long mid watch last night, and an unsuccessful nap this morning, I woke to find fresh beignets with powdered sugar hot from the galley. Coming into the trip terrified of being force fed fish, I am happy to report home that we eat well and often. Much to my parents’ dismay, I have not started eating seafood. But with light winds and lower sails set, this morning was gorgeous and fresh donuts were only the beginning. Not more than 30 minutes later we were entertained by five whales playfully swimming just off the bow of our ship. Our first animal sighting did not disappoint. Especially now that we have permission to lie in the head rig netting, and as the anticipation of arriving in the exotic Marquesas heightens, the whales’ timing could not have been better.

Despite an eventful morning, the day was defined by the “pin rail chase.” The last week has been spent getting checked off on all necessary nautical skills. From simple bowline knots (thanks Dado), to memorizing the location of 20+ fire extinguishers on board, it all culminated in today’s “competition”. I use the word competition lightly because we were assured the line chase was not meant to have winners and losers, but my last name almost guarantees a highly competitive personality. After lining up in watch groups, we were one by one sent out to find a specific line and return to our group as quickly as possible (without running) so the next person could go. The first watch to finish all the lines won. With 85+ lines on board for 10 sails, the multitude of halyards, downhauls, sheets, and jiggers can be confusing to say the least. However, after days spent “studying” in the gorgeous Pacific sunshine, every watch did an amazing job and the quickest pin rail chase in Seamans history was barely won by A watch. Fun was had by all, with plenty of cheering, bantering, and speed walking. A personal favorite was when asked to find the “pick up line”, one by one individuals paused before realizing that it was not in fact a real line, then struggled to come up with a funny one liner under pressure. I think Tasha G. said it best with, “Are you a topping lift because you are certainly lifting my boom?” Nautical and comical. The last card called for a conga line, and teams danced their way around the boat as the chase came to an end.

Thankfully, Sayzie again came through for us as Hurricanes (sans alcohol, of course) and King Cake was shared by all to celebrate the memorable day. We now find ourselves in a food coma under a sky full of stars, and tomorrow we will be one day closer to more island fun in Nuku Hiva. As our Capitan told me just the other day, sailing is a unique place where days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. I’m sure something incredible lies ahead.

All the best,
Jenny Binkowski / B Watch

Feb

11

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Waffle Monday
11 February 2013, 2331
Position: 12° 09.4’ S x 142° 15.5’ W
Speed: 2 knots aka Bagel walking speed

Image Caption: A Watch sits on the Bowsprit of the Robert C. Seamans- our very first bonding activity/official meeting!

Waking up at 3 am has become a routine fairly quickly.  Spending early mornings counting zooplankton? Feels just like my biology department home at Lawrence- only these are saltwater plankton, and I’m in the middle of the Pacific.  This is a whole other academic beast at SEA.

This is officially week one- where we are expected to learn and be tested on 15 nautical skills that will help us know and properly utilize all the necessary areas of the ship.  The watches have been spending time seeking out fire extinguishers, memorizing lines (not poetry), drawing sail diagrams, and knowing emergency procedures until they are one check mark closer to the prize.  By the time we are in Nuku Hiva, we are to have all of these skills checked off.  The prize? We can ‘go aloft’ up the high high ropes of the mast.  Most of my watch has the competitive gene; I would rather take my time- (my goal after Fakarava was to remain on island time forever while still being as functional as necessary) I’m hoping to spread my brain cells out evenly over the next week.  I need them to find an interesting solar power place/person to interview for my group project in Nuku Hiva. Nonetheless, I am very excited to go aloft and experience the ocean from the tallest point of this tall ship.

So today, after our 0300-0700 dawn watch ended, our watch rocked dawn clean-up (a thorough squeegeeing of the soles (or the floor) for me! You always knew this day would come, dad!  Then a sleepy morning was rewarded with waffles, “Hot from the galley!”.  There are ALWAYS good surprises coming from the kitchen- I like to help out when I can and sometimes there are spontaneous snacks!  Then, after a quick three hour nap, it was time for lunch!  Lunch was followed by class at 1430- where our professor Jan revealed our first scientific results from our trip’s first seven deployments.  We now have vertical profiles down to 600 meters- measuring the waters productivity, light penetration, pH, oxygen, nitrogen and more. We also have our first specimens in the zooplankton lab- I found a white fish-looking thing and many little blue copepods.  Never thought I’d be this excited about such tiny organisms. 

One memorable moment I have had recently was learning how to bagel walk. This means to walk at neuston speed- at 2 kts, or the speed at which it is safe to deploy the neuston net over the side to collect plankton samples. Colleen, my first mate, taught me to walk as if it was Sunday morning- you’re, you know, kinda lazy, hungry but not TOO hungry, and you decide to walk to get a bagel.  This is the way to safe scientific deployment.  Then we’d follow the bubbles released at the side of the ship- if this kind of stroll matches the bubble’s speed, you’re bagel walking at two kts.- you’re good to go!

I learned many things today: Sea waffles are even better than land waffles, how to properly relieve the helm and take over the steering of the ship, and that a spontaneous jam band consisting of a banjo, ukulele, guitar and harmonica can make wonderful acoustic art in the middle of the ocean at sunset.

Devin Burri
Lawrence University/ A Watch

Feb

10

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 10 February 2013
Position: 13° 53’ S x 143° 00’ W

The sea was so rough when we first left the dock in Papeete that more than ten students were seasick. Even when we were suffering from vomiting and headaches, we had to stand watch for four or six hours under the blazing sun in the morning and the torrential rain at night. At school, we probably would have asked for leave because we were feeling so unwell. On the ship, this was not an option.

Today is our eleventh day at sea. After three days exploring in Fakarava, we finally have come back to our routine path on Seamans. We are sailing towards the Northeast in the Pacific Ocean for six days without any stops, and so far, no one is seasick. However, we are still encountering challenges both physical and psychological.

Life at sea is significantly different from our life at home. We have a strict daily schedule, including but not limited to set times for waking up, working, eating, and going to class. For example, nobody is supposed to start eating until the ring is belled. Punctuality is respectful to others and to the boat.

Our job on boat can be categorized into four types: deck, science lab, galley (kitchen), and engine room. In addition to our practical work on the boat, academic studies for SPICE are challenging at the same time. We have group projects, individual projects, scientific studies, and computer operations. Up to now, I am still struggling to figure out the definition of “sustainability,” and from whose point of view are we defining it? Is Polynesia unsustainable for the native people, or only those Europeans who colonized that land and stayed there?

There are also some trivial things to which I need adapt to on the boat. On shore, we can escape from the crowds if we need time to be alone. In such an enclosed small space, rarely do we have any private space. Furthermore, even though we have an awesome cook who can make a diverse range of delicious food, we do have a few picky eaters in our class (of course including myself). There are people who cannot stand breadfruits, seafood, vegetables, beans, red meats, cheese and milk.  In addition, it is worth mentioning that cutting off connection with the outside world was tough at the beginning. Having no Internet and phone connections drove some of us to spend a considerable amount of money to buy them in Tahiti. We are not able to attach to our familiar figures anymore. No supports and suggestions from family and old friends certainly made me uncomfortable to a certain extent.

On no account should we ignore that challenges are something new, exciting, and difficult which requires great effort and determination if we are going to succeed.  I am learning so much by stepping out of my comfortable zone.

At sea, we are together a family. Seldom do we have a chance to stick together with the same people throughout the entire two months. All “others”(our professors and mates on the boat) and our watch officers are amiable, considerate, and willing to help. SEA provides us the opportunities to experience every single working role on the boat. Helping out in the galley for only one short day makes me fully appreciate the way our boat
operates. Getting up at 0400 every single day, preparing three big meals for two seatings, making three snacks for 39 people, this is the fundamental workload for our steward Sayzie, and usually there are a bunch of other issues coming up unpredictably.

My name, Yixin Liu, obviously reveals my Chinese identity. I am from Beijing, China. Growing up in a culture founded on traditional Confucianism, family means a lot to me. Today is the lunar Chinese New Year, known as Spring Festival as well. I was really frustrated by not being able to celebrate our most important festival with my family. However, perhaps it was meant to be. I was assigned to help out in the galley in the New Year
day, which supposed to be filled with joy of food, smiling faces, and loving hearts. Sayzie fully supported me making spring rolls for today’s afternoon snack, no matter how much efforts we need to spend on. By the time people were having spring rolls and saying “Happy New Year” to me, I realized that home is wherever love exists and my heart resides.

Here are some small things I enjoyed the most on Seamans so far: double rainbows, sunrise and sunset, sea waves lapping against the sides of the boat, seagulls hovering over the surging waves and catching fish, light
sound from the engine, fresh breezes puffed across the hanging clothes on the drying string, and of course, blogging under the sky which is studded with twinkling stars during the night as I am doing now.

Challenges push us to become stronger inside and enhance our ability to adapt to different environments. We have five more weeks to go, and we are willing to accept the challenges of the unknown. Just like our every
single meal, we are not able to know what we will have until it is the exact time to eat. Why do you want to know what is going to happen next? Please simply enjoy whatever food is presented to you. For most of the time, surprising events give us more excitements and joyfulness. Life is good at sea. Speaking as a Chinese, who come from the other side of the earth with a twelve hours time difference, sunrise in the Atlantic Ocean represents sunset in the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, no matter where we are, there is always a sun rising on the earth. Life is good at SEA. If you will, wouldyou wish me a Happy New Year in addition to our Bon Voyage please?

Yixin Liu

Feb

09

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Saturday 09 February 2013, 23:16
Position: 14° 05.5’ S, 143° 11.2’ W
Weather and Wind: Seas calm. Light winds, coming from NNE.
Description of Location: On our way from Fakarava to Nuka Hiva.

Image Caption: FLASHBACK: Worker harvesting a pearl on a pearl farm in Fakarava

Ahoy!

Today has been another eventful day on the Robert C. Seamans. Everyone aboard has officially shifted back into ‘sea’ mode, adjusting to the rolling vessel, carefully stowing items away- keeping spills and accidents to a
minimum. Following a wake-up at 0600 (for C watch), the day carried on with a rotating shift of watch groups (consisting of 8 students and 2 mates) manning the ship around the clock. Being our first full day back at sea, we’ve managed to hold our own, retaining and learning new information about our jobs as Junior Watch Officers (JWOs) and constellations/celestial navigation.

After a 0620 breakfast and a few day watches, the night quickly encroached upon us. As JWOs one position, while ‘standing watch’ at nighttime, requires us to be ‘lookouts.’ Lookouts stand on the bow of the ship, detecting other vessels, obstructions in the water, light flares and any other visible sightings seen over 360 degrees of the horizon. Standing at the bow gives us a great view of the open ocean we’re currently sailing! Being lookout tonight allowed me to occasionally gaze at the bright stars and constellations I just learned about.

Learning about constellations (so we can navigate celestially in the near future), under a crystal clear night sky in the middle of the South Pacific has certainly put a great end to yet another beautiful day. Night watch began at 1900, with the 8 of us splitting up various jobs. Initially the designated dishwasher for the night, I managed to finish my job 2 hours early, just in time to learn about the ancient method of sailing- celestial navigation! The celestial “G” begins with the belt of Orion. The celestial “G” is a term SEA has created to help us learn this form of navigation.

Orion dominated the southern sky tonight. It was easy to spot his belt, the three bright stars that form a straight row. Orion is a heavily armed hunter, with a club, shield, sword and belt. Betelgeuse, the left shoulder of Orion, is a supergiant. This supergiant, along with Rigel- a bluish-white star, forms part of the celestial “G.” The Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, are encompassed in the zodiac where the moon and planets travel. Capella, a yellowish bright star, is the eye of Charioteer (a constellation). The twins and Capella are also part of the celestial “G.”

On a side note, as we’re beginning to settle into SEA life at sea, ending our 14:30 class everyday with a song has turned into a ritual. Today, Moohono taught us a Tahitian warrior song, in which we’ll soon learn a warrior dance- the Haka (although it doesn’t accompany this specific song). I’ll leave the English translation up to you, but just imagine a group of students singing along to the following song on a few ukuleles and guitars, while sailing in the South Pacific:

E moe nei to oe tino una una
E moe nei ta oe mau Horomini
I teie po
Ua hiti mai te owa’e
Na hia tura hai au e
Ia moe atu oe
Te vai atura
I te mau vahi atoa e
Te Faatau arpha e
Ia moe noa tu oe

Meghan Whalen
C Watch
Marist College

Feb

08

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 08 February 2013, 03:14 AM
Position: 15° 28.1’ S x 144° 28.3’ W

Image Caption: The Seamans at anchor in Fakarava’s lagoon for the first of hopefully many visits to explore, exchange, and learn from the rich knowledge and perspectives of the people there.

It’s been a 21-hour day, so I’ll try to be brief.  This morning B Watch was woken at 0600 for breakfast before getting ready to set sail for Nuku Hiva. We relieved A Watch at 0700, and by 0800 the ship’s anchor was up and we began looking for the tell-tale pass through the atoll that would lead us to the open ocean.  Throughout the entire watch, mates were calling out to hoist this or that sail, with groups of students, on watch or off, repeating the call with vigor.  At one point, we had four lower sails and two upper sails set, as we tried to capture as much of the light breeze as possible. It was really exciting to see the potential of many sails raised at once. The seas were fairly calm today, which was wonderful for those of us dreading seasickness, but made for slow sailing and we are now currently sailing with the motor going.

In our afternoon class, Jan demonstrated how to deploy our oceanographic data collecting equipment.  The carousel that we send to 600 meters twice daily is loaded with equipment to measure dissolved oxygen, salinity, chlorophyll concentration, and many other physical qualities of the ocean that are relevant to the research we are currently conducting onboard.  The carousel can even take discrete samples of water at any depth we program it to, so on any given deployment, the carousel can come back up with water from as many as 16 different depths in the water column!  We’ve begun learning how to get this 300-pound equipment off the deck and into the water in our watches, with A watch doing the first deployment this evening.

At 2300, B watch relieved A watch again.  I was in the lab for the duration of the watch, where we analyzed the sample we got from the neuston net that had been deployed shortly before our watch took control of the ship. The neuston net has a rectangular opening, and the net itself gradually tapers until it fits around the rim of a jar, dubbed the cod end. The fine mesh of the net captured all sorts of planktonic critters that were kept in the jar until we brought it back aboard.  We spent the watch examining, tallying, and preserving all of the larval fish, shrimp, and gelatinous creatures we pulled up.  The prize of the tow was a giddy cuttlefish no longer than an inch, that inked as soon as we put it in the jar, and inked again when we tried to change its already inky water.  Under the light, it changed color from dark red to tinges of blue and green, and back to red.  It was a great night of getting acquainted with the equatorial Pacific’s cast of marine characters.

With that, I think I’ll call it a day.  We’re 5 or 6 days away from Nuku Hiva, with Fakarava now far behind.  I was not the only one to feel a pang of regret on having to leave the atoll. It was truly an amazing place.

Erickson Smith
College of the Atlantic/ B Watch

Feb

07

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Thursday 07 February 2013, 22:18
Position: 16° 03’ 303” S x 145°  37’ 521” W
Weather and Wind: Seas calm. Light 7 knot winds, coming from NNW.
Description of Location: Anchored 0.147 nautical miles off Rotoava in Fakarava’s lagoon

Image Caption: Marketa learning how to make a hat

Every night on the lagoon I’ve noticed has felt the same. Now that our last and most packed day in Fakarava has finally ended, I sit on the deck of the Seamans in familiar, comforting conditions. The night is almost perfectly black, except for a dozen tiny scattered lights on shore. The stars are as bright as can be. Besides the purring of the mainmast exhaust fan, there are no sounds anywhere, not even from the water. Even though I need to wake up in a few hours to get our ship underway, I want to stay up and savor the silence and stillness-before we all begin puking from the constant rolling of ocean waves again.

B watch awoke this morning to breakfast burritos and a speedy but comprehensive dawn cleaning-we scrubbed everything from the heads to the doghouse. Then the whole group packed wraps for lunch, lathered sunscreen on our bodies for the day, and hands full with snorkeling gear, hopped off the ship and onto three motor boats. Our Polynesian friends were taking us the southern part of Fakarava.

But not before visiting a few motus-islands. We stopped at two motus absolutely covered with seabirds: terns, petrels, and brown, masked, and red-footed boobies. At the first motu, I put on my snorkeling gear and watched our friends spearfish. Using spearguns in the shallow reef, they caught two rock cods and a red snapper. At the second motu, we saw crabs that looked like blue lobsters.

Eventually we reached our real destination: Tetamanu Motu. On the southern part of Fakarava, it has a whopping population of ten. We tripled the number of people there that afternoon.

There, some of us learned how to prepare coconut milk from beginning to end. We learned the Polynesian way of tearing the husk off the coconut fruit, cracking open the coconut with the blunt edge of a machete, scraping the white flesh out, and finally, squeezing the milk out with our own T-shirts. The milk tasted less like sweat than expected.

Then we all enjoyed a generous meal, prepared on a traditional open fire. There was breadfruit, cooked until black, then peeled. There were coconut pancakes, pressed and cooked between two leaves. And there were some of the fish caught that day, six unicornfish and two cods, cooked, skinned, washed in lagoon salt water, and served with lemon. We ate with our hands, using leaves as plates when necessary.

What felt like soon after more conversation and swimming, it was time to leave, and we did. We were driven back to our ship, a three-hour journey, where we were magically greeted with a lasagna dinner less than twenty minutes after we arrived with our cook. We reflected after dinner about our three days in Fakarava, and it was then that we talked for the first time about cultural sustainability. In what’s sometimes called French-occupied Polynesia, and certainly everywhere else, cultural sustainability is a complex subject that I’m sure you can ask any one of us about when we return.

Tomorrow morning, we depart for Nuku Hiva, a French Polynesian island in the Marquesas. We’ll sail for six days before arriving. Although I could sit here reflecting all night on how it feels to have the time of your life, it’s late and I know I’m going to need some sleep if I’m going to get the ship underway in the morning. So to all those out there, here’s to sleep-oh, good beloved motionless sleep.

Leonid Liu
B Watch
Wesleyan University

Feb

06

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Wednesday 06 February 2013, 18:47
16°03.3’ S x 145°37.5’ W

Image Caption: Farm-hands at work in Fakarava: coconuts on coconuts on coconuts!

Loarana (hello)  from Fakarava, day two on the lovely atoll.

Life aboard the ship begins at 0600, wasting none of the daylight! Fortunately, we were woken up to a tasty breakfast complete with fresh-baked chocolate croissants crafted by Freddie Burns (a man of many trades as Rachel touched on in yesterday’s blog post). The food on board is quite delicious thanks to Sayze—our creative steward—-my personal favorite was the almond joy pancakes!

The day was set for a few adventures in the morning and some time was set aside for some group research and exploration. As a group, we headed over to a farm where we were introduced to all the stages of coconut growth. One of the farm-hands demonstrated how to begin the process of a coconut sprout which involves chopping off a slice of the dried coconut and burying it halfway in the mixed coral soil. Facing the sun after a few months, the tree will begin to grow. We also got to taste the wonders of the coconut in many forms: coconut water, coconut meat, coconut bread.

One of the strongest cultural tendencies I have noticed on this voyage thus far is everyone’s willingness to share what they have, be it knowledge, coconut bread, shell necklaces or flowers. We have had so many meetings trying to gather information for our studies, and the kindness and willingness we have experienced has been unexpected and incredible. After we heavily indulged in coconut products of various kinds, we boarded the school bus once again and took the single main road to our next destination: the pearl farm. French Polynesia is famous for its black pearls and we were privileged enough to be invited to see how the magic is done! Pearl farming is a careful and detailed process that requires the knowledge of many experts in order to create a perfectly round and grade A black pearl.

Sneak peak into how it’s done: A trained specialist in the area grafts a piece of mother of pearl shell to a nucleus imported from the US, then this graft is carefully placed inside the oyster. The oysters are placed in protected beds where the mother of pearl feeds the nucleus until harvest time. Walking around the farm, which is actually in a structure above the coastline, we had a good feel for the passion behind their work. The remainder of the afternoon was a beautiful mix of activities for us: group members’ went off on their own ways to satisfy their curiosities and capture the essence of Fakarava. I went with a group to see the marae on the island with Rosalie Itu (also mentioned in the previous blog entry). Maraes are a place that Polynesians used to honor their ancestors, celebrate harvests and many other ceremonial activities in ancient times. She also brought us to see the Seven Currents which interact in the channel of Fakarava and contain many legends within their powerful flow.

Also included in this afternoon for the books was some swimming in the lagoon and the ocean in the super salty water, some ice cream eating and zumba-ing with the locals from Fakarava who invited us to join (my personal favorite!) We even learned some Tahitian phrases with Mahono “Here vo moana” meaning, “I like the ocean”. It’s simple but it’s a start, what more needs to be said?

Mia Pinheiro
University of Vermont
C Watch

Feb

05

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Tuesday, 05 February 2013, 19:00
Position: 16˚03.3’ S x 145°37.5’ W

Image Caption: Arriving by small boat to pier in Fakarava with Marissa, Mia, Mackenzie (3rd Mate), Tasha, Carson and Justin

February 5th, 07:00 to 13:00—B Watch’s third watch shift since leaving Tahiti, and my first not seasick (success!) More importantly, it was in this time frame that we anchored in the beautiful, crystal clear waters along the shore of the atoll of Fakarava. A day ahead of schedule with our turbulent departure from Tahiti in our recent memory (and stomachs) it was an all-hands effort to strike the sails, drop the anchor, and safely arrive in our second stop in French Polynesia.

In order to get to the dock (here, a relative term) we traveled by small inflatable boats in three shifts. Just as striking as the placid, aquamarine waters surrounding Fakarava was the nearly complete silence of the island. Besides the pleasant breeze and subtle lapping of the waves, the quiet was absolute. Even the multiple dogs that ambled across our path refrained from barking. As we attempted to make ourselves presentable despite the 100˚F weather, a friendly woman approached us offering small white buds to place behind our ears. Her warm greeting and floral offering was consistent with treatment we had received in Tahiti. She brought us to the nearby tourist center, which was little more than a one-roomed building of comfortable chairs and tourist brochures. From here, we were guided on foot to the Town Hall which was great——both for its abundance of floral print (think wallpaper, tablecloth, chairs, etc.) and the air conditioning. We then had the pleasure of meeting Freddie Burns and Rosalie Itu.

Both members of the City Council with a diverse range of professional and social roles (Rosalie holds many of the important stories and myths of the island while Freddie is a baker, contractor, organic farmer to name a few,) we were given an open invitation to ask questions. Fluent in English, Freddie fielded many of the cultural and practical questions students directed at him on the topics of our respective projects. Rosalie Itu then told us a story that had appeared to her in a dream, conveyed through the interpretation of Professor Mahono from Tahitian to English. Allegorical and rich, her story was an example of the expression of mana (holy power, a gift from the ancestors) in our contemporary times.

The remainder of our afternoon was spent at the UNESCO Biosphere office where Frederique, the President of the Association of the Biosphere (organization: GARUAE) spoke to us about the organization’s work in preserving the wildlife and habitat of much of the atoll’s lands and surrounding waters as well as efforts to educate the island’s youth on issues of sustainability and environmental conservation.

A theme echoed by all who addressed us today was that of knowing WHAT and HOW much we need and that this issue is especially apparent on islands whose resources—-despite the financial and administrative support of France (which carries many complicated implications in and of themselves)—-are finite. Indeed, from different perspectives we were asked to consider how island peoples must use everything they have to the fullest while understanding where less is possible.

Of course, like every other day at SEA, the intense experiences, encounters, academic expectations and subsequent introspection was countered by pure, simple fun. Swimming at dusk with my peers in the lagoon as we awaited the small boats that would take us to dinner was an excellent cap to another very full, beautiful day.

Rachel Levinson
Pitzer College, B Watch

Feb

05

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

Tuesday 05 February 2013
Position: 16° 03’ 16.80” S x 145° 37’ 33.60” W

Good evening,
All Is well aboard here. We have been following the tsunami watch and warnings here on board through the Inmarsat. We had a great day in Fakarava. We arrived around noon local time and anchored up. We were welcomed by the local community at town hall. Currently we are about to have dinner with local quests. Tomorrow we will be going back on the island for some field trip activities to a pearl farm.

Capt Jen Haddock

Feb

03

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 03 February 2013, 7:30pm
Position: 17° 22’ 36.00” S x 149° 32’ 48.00” W

Image Caption: Caroline, Jessie and Marissa practicing with the fire hose during drills

Today we said goodbye to Tahiti and set sail to begin a voyage that I’m sure we will never forget. But before we set sail, we woke up at 0600 for breakfast and a plethora of safety drills. While these may have seemed long and tedious at the time, they are incredibly important for the safety of the ship and the crew. We did run-throughs of all the major possible emergencies. We began with MOB (Man Overboard). In the event that someone falls overboard, the first person to notice begins to yell “man overboard,” and keeps their eye on where the person in the water is located. Upon hearing this command, everyone yells “man overboard” and the person nearest to the doghouse sounds the alarm. The alarm signal for MOB is three short bursts. Crew members then start throwing lifejackets and life rings over the side of the boat. Further, each watch group and each individual is assigned a designated task. For example, my task is to get the life sling ready if need be, and my watch group’s task is to get the rescue boat ready and launched upon the command of the chief mate, Colleen, or the captain, Jen Haddock.

The second drill we ran was the abandon ship drill. The alarm sound for abandon ship is six short bursts and one long one. There are two ways that abandoning ship would happen: the short way or the long way. Either we would need to abandon ship immediately, if say, we collided with another boat and we were sinking rapidly; or we could abandon slowly if the ship was sinking at a very slow rate and we would be able to determine how much time we had before needing to evacuate. We did a run-through of the slower version. Again, each individual and each watch group is assigned designated tasks. My task is to get the gumby suits out and distribute them to my watch group. These suits are critical because they keep the body warm and they float. The next and final drill we ran was a fire drill. In the event of a fire, the alarm sound is a constant buzz. Again, everyone is assigned individual duties. Mine is to collect all the fire extinguishers and lay them on their sides in the quarterdeck. The purpose of laying them on their sides is so that no one accidently knocks them over and they do not explode. It is also highly important that everyone knows how to use the fire hoses onboard the Seamans. Each crewmember practiced using the fire hoses, as seen in the picture.

Finally, after a long morning and a brief interview by a local Tahitian news station, we were ready to depart the harbor. We took the fenders off the boat, released the lines on the port side, and we were on our way. While underway, we only set two sails, as many of us are still beginners. We set the mainstays’l and the forestays’l. The way to set each of these is to release the downhaul while simultaneously pulling on the halyard with lots of might to bring up the sail. The sheet is then used to adjust the sail to the wind. Meanwhile, in the quarterdeck, many crewmembers began to get seasick, as it was our first day actually sailing. People were lined up on the leeward side of the boat constantly puking over the side. It may take a few days for us to get our sea legs. Luckily, I did not get sick, so I was able to take the helm and steer the course ordered, which was 320°.

Quick shout out to my parents, Mary and Jim, for teaching me how to sail at a young age. All those times I was yelled at for calling them ropes instead of lines has finally paid off. I’d like to end this post by mentioning how rewarding all of our hard work has been. All the work we did during the four-week shore component in Woods Hole at times seemed pointless. But, today, as we sailed away from Tahiti through rolling six-foot swells into the vast blue Pacific, all of that work paid off without question. There is nothing more rewarding than the peaceful state of rolling through the waves while watching the sunset, with nothing but the ocean in sight.

Caroline M. Yeager

Feb

03

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Sunday 03 February 2013, 1:30pm
Position: 17° 32.5’ S x 149° 34.2’W
Location: Papeete Harbor, Tahiti
Tropical Summer Weather: Intermittent downpours alternating with sunshine and very hot and humid

Image Caption: Pomareoreo and Moohono Niva describe a tiki to our class on the marae that Pomareoreo maintains on a mountaintop in Tahiti.

Ahoy Friends and Family,
Over the next two months we hope to take advantage of this blog to keep you apprised of our activities in the South Pacific. In our SEA Semester program, “Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems” (SPICE) we will look at big issues of colonialism, globalization, resource depletion and climate change through eight projects that take a more narrow focus (on fisheries, tourism, harbor development, water and power generation, agricultural production, imports and exports-especially of food products-and the persistence and adaptation of traditional Polynesian cultural practices).

We have spent our time in the Tahitian capital of Papeete very productively, with lots of work already done on the group projects and on individual research papers. On Friday we visited a marae (a sacred site to Polynesians) with Poumarioreo, a friend of our colleague Paul Moohono Niva, on whom we depend to help us make good local connections. Poumarioreo has worked to bring a traditional ceremonial life back to the marae, though most Tahitians have long been devout Christians (and even his mother does not support his activities). Anglican, Catholic, and Mormon missionaries began to arrive in the late 18th century and still have an active presence on the island. Among the sources Poumarioreo has used to understand traditional practices are the descriptions of early missionaries, who documented the ceremonial life of Polynesians even as they sought to dismantle it.

On Saturday we visited another marae in the Papenoo Valley, where we also saw a family farm on one of the high plateaus along the riverbank.  When Captain Cook arrived here in 1769 there were more than 12,000 people in this
valley, with productive agriculture that has now mostly disappeared.  The population today is found mostly in the urban area surrounding the capital of Papeete and the fruits that one sees sold in the market and at roadside stands are grown in smaller plots on the coastal plain.

We set our course today with plenty of work to do, not only sailing the ship and instituting our oceanographic research, but getting the information we have collected here into a form that we can share through GIS-based maps on
our on-line Atlas of Polynesia.  We will be very ably assisted in that effort by Dr. Jeff Howarth of the Geography Dept. at Middlebury College, who will sail with us to Hawaii.

More will follow in the days and weeks to come: on sailing, island visits, birds, project research, the actions of our shipmates, and interesting things brought up from the watery depths.  All is well on board.

Mary Malloy, Ph.D.
Professor of Maritime Studies

Feb

01

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

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Friday 01 February 2013, 3:00pm
Position: 17° 32.5’ S x 149° 34.2’W
Weather / Wind: Nly wind with rain showers
Description of location: Dockside in Papeete Tahiti

Image Caption: Seamans Dockside in Papeete Tahiti

Greetings to all from the South Pacific!!
We are currently dockside in Papeete Tahiti. 24 students arrived in the middle of the night on Wednesday. They were greeted by some of the crew, given a short orientation to the ship, shown to their bunks and sent to bed. In the morning, all were given individual wake ups by the crew. There is no need of alarm clocks here. The morning in the tropics is one of the best times before the heat of the day arrives. Sayzie, the ships steward, fed them a hearty breakfast for their day a head. Thursday was filled with some more orientation to the ship and then moved on to field trips and exploring Papeete. The local market of fish, pearls and flowers was a hit along with watching the outrigger canoes practice in the harbor. No one needed to go far to start to feel the flavor of Tahiti. Our day did not end at sundown. The evening was spent welcoming aboard two speakers from Tahiti. One spoke on vegetation and forests on the South Pacific islands and the other spoke of the South Pacific Voyaging in the sailing canoes. Even after a long day and still a bit jet lagged the students were completely engaged and asking a lot of great questions.

Currently the group is out on some more field trips in the area. The heavy tropical rain has not slowed them down. Now they understand why I said rain gear was very important even in the tropics! This afternoon all students have been invited to a reception at city hall which is considered an honor. Tomorrow is an all day field trip around the whole island and then on Sunday we get underway for Fakarava.

Please check back often to follow our voyage!!

Capt Jen Haddock

Jan

31

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

Thursday 31 January 2013, 10:30
Position: 17° 32’ 19.20” S x 149° 34’ 09.60” W

All of the students of class S-245 arrived safely at the Robert C. Seamans in Papeete, Tahiti on January 30th. They settled in for their first shipboard night and will be up bright and early today to begin their work in French Polynesia.  Over the next day or two they will begin blogging regularly from the Seamans.

Jan

30

S245 Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems

Wednesday 30 January 2013, 3:30
Position: 17° 32’ 19.20” S x 149° 34’ 09.60” W

Students will arrive tonight for S245 and depart Papeete, Tahiti on Thursday, January 31st.  They will arrive on the Big Island of Hawai’i on Monday, March 18th.